Captain Clarke has great expectations for the season

PROMOTION PUSH: AFC Sudbury skipper Sam Clarke, (right) pictured in pre-season action against Bury Town, is confident ahead of the new season
PROMOTION PUSH: AFC Sudbury skipper Sam Clarke, (right) pictured in pre-season action against Bury Town, is confident ahead of the new season

Promotion is the only option for AFC Sudbury ahead of the new Ryman League Division One North season, according to captain Sam Clarke.

The Yellows are gearing up for the big kick-off on Saturday as they head to relegated Cray Wanderers (3pm) to open the campaign before welcoming Wroxham to the Wardale Williams Stadium on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).

And for Clarke, who captained the side in a 4-2 defeat to a young Ipswich Town outfit on Tuesday evening, as Sudbury concluded their pre-season fixture schedule, expectations have to be set high.

“It is always good to be tested against a professional outfit because it gives us a lot of benefits,” he said of Tuesday’s defeat in which Ryan Henshaw and Lawrence Yiga netted for AFC.

“We have worked on a lot of things on the training ground in pre-season, like our defensive structure, and so it was good to put that to the test.

“Promotion without a doubt has to be the club’s aim this season.

“I know that is setting high expectations but hopefully we can do everything we can to achieve that.”

That confidence may be in place as a result of a fruitful summer signing spree that has seen a host of exciting arrivals at the club.

Of the nine new faces, none stand out more so than Jake Reed, whose 20 league goals fired Lowestoft Town to the Conference and Kris Newby, who hit 22 goals as Witham Town secure promotion to the Ryman Premier.

There has also been an injection of experience in the shape of 40-year-old former Barnet, Stevenage Borough and Dagenham and Redbridge player Lee Flynn, and Clarke is confident the new additions will help AFC vastly improve the 10th place finish of last season.

“We have made some very positive signings during the summer, which is fantastic,” he added.

“That bit of experience has been added and that was important because they can help bring that winning mentality to the rest of the squad.

“I think everyone who was here last season has also learnt a lot and adding the players we have, I think we are much stronger for it.

“I’d take promotion anyway it would come but we are looking pretty strong to be honest.

“If we can play as I know we can than we should be up there in the mix at the end of season, which I’d be more than happy with.”

With the focus now on Saturday’s opener, Clarke believes the dressing room are raring to go as he remains confident of fulfilling his own high expectations.

“Everyone in the dressing room is really excited for the start of the new season,” he said.

“We are in a very positive frame of mind ahead of Saturday. We have bonded really well and trained hard and so we are really well prepared.

“We don’t really focus on what others expect us to do, we know what we need to achieve and we will focus on doing that.”