Horsham YMCA boss Peter Buckland has predicted a tight Premier Division season and feels his side need to finish top if they are to be promoted.
YM took fourth place last season as their title charge faltered and Buckland believes that the battle to go up will be even harder this year.
He said: “I’m not sure how many will go up this year, whether it is just the top spot, and if it is just top spot it’s going to be a tough season.
“Chichester are very strong this year, Pagham are always strong, and I think you can throw AFC Uckfield into the mix this year.
“We’re entering the season on the basis that you’ve got to win in to get out of it and that’s what we will be doing.“
Buckland has been busy fine-tuning his side, with three new faces welcomed into the YM squad.
The Horsham YMCA boss was also delighted to retain the majority of last season’s team but has had one departure.
He added: “We’ve signed Alex Barbary, he’s been at Horley Town for a number of seasons and did really well.
“He was going to join Fleet Town in the Bostik League but at the last moment Fleet got shoved out into the west and he went I don’t mind travelling to Fleet, I just don’t want to be travelling to Weston-super-Mare.
“We’ve signed Hugo Cowan and he’s played at Step 3 and Step 4 down in Wales but he’s back now and he’s committed.
“He plays cricket at quite a high level so I think we can’t bank on him in August so he should be available in September.
“We’ve signed another keeper as a back up for Aaron Jeal called Ben Pearce from a local club and he seems a decent lad,
“Other than that we’ve retained the entirety of last season’s squad apart from Phil Johnson.
“Phil is a Hassocks lad; he came through the system, his mates are there, it’s his local club.
“He has no axe to grind with me or YM, it’s just sometimes a player needs a change so he goes with our best wishes and thanks for what he has done for us.“
In the build up to the new season YM have played a number of friendlies with the most recent being a nine-goal thriller against Redhill which finished 5-4 to Buckland’s side.
The Horsham YMCA manager felt that this pre-season has been the worst he has ever had due to a number of reasons, including organising friendlies and the amount of injuries his players have faced throughout the off-season.
He said: “It has probably been the worst pre-season I’ve ever endured.
“Everyone’s eye was cast aside by the World Cup because of England’s progression, so we started our pre-season really late.
“I’m afraid I’ve still got a few carrying niggly injuries so I’ve not been able to push them too hard bearing in mind that August 4 is just around the corner but I’m afraid some of them won’t make that day.
“It’s been quite stressful this pre-season.”
Horsham YMCA’s season kicks off this Saturday as they travel to AFC Uckfield Town.