AFC Sudbury captain Sam Clarke believes the squad is stronger and more equipped for promotion than it has ever been in recent years.
The tough-tackling midfielder, who is the club’s longest serving first-team player with three seasons under his belt, believes the Yellows could be the ones to beat in Ryman League Division One North this season.
“I am confident to be honest,” he said ahead of the opening day at Redbridge on Saturday. “I think the side is the best squad we have had since Nicky has been there and we should do well.
“Obviously Danny Gay is a big signing, he has been around the non-League circuit for a long time and will bring experience to the boys at the back.
“As a squad we have now got a lot of old heads that have been around a bit and the younger lads have learnt from last year.
“It was losing silly games last year that cost us, like against Waltham Forest and hopefully that won’t be the case this year.”
Clarke, who joined AFC from Great Wakering Rovers when Smith took over as manager, revealed it is the quality in the current squad has left him relishing the prospect of the upcoming campaign more than past years.
“This is the most excited I have been about a season for a long time,” he said. “The lads have been getting on very well and we’ve had a couple of nights out and everyone is bonding well together in pre-season.”
Clarke, who was appointed captain after Craig Hughes left the club for Cambridge City midway through last season, is yet to play a big part in a promotion-winning side, having been on the periphery as a raw 17-year-old at Maldon Town eight years ago. But the skipper will be hoping 2011/12 will go down as his most memorable season.