Steve Eastaugh has conceded AFC Sudbury’s signing spree will bring added expectations ahead of the start of the new campaign on Saturday.
The Yellows are gearing up for a trip to relegated Cray Wanderers (3pm) in the Ryman League Division One North opener before hosting Wroxham on Tuesday (7.45pm) with a new-look squad that includes some stellar signings.
And although players such as Steve Spriggs (King’s Lynn, loan) and Scott Mitchell(Leiston) have departed, Sudbury have been busy with Ryan Maxwell (Heybridge Swifts), Craig Pope (Grays Athletic), Lawrence Yiga (Ware) and former Barnet and Stevenage Borough veteran Lee Flynn all arriving.
But it is stellar signings such as Jake Reed, whose 20 league goals fired Lowestoft Town to the Conference and Kris Newby, who hit 22 goals as Witham Town secured promotion to the Ryman Premier, that will have eyes drawn to David Batch’s charges as promotion hopefuls.
“When you bring in players of the calibre that we have that brings pressure there is no doubt about that,” conceded assistant manager Eastaugh, who was keen to down play his side’s promotion hopes.
“Some of those have dropped down a division to be here but is it an easy option for them as they are hungry to succeed and don’t want to be a mid-table side.
“We have youth with experience and coupled with the players we had last year makes an exciting group.
“You need older heads because they have been there and done it and they will guide us when times are tough.
“The expectation from our point-of-view is that we want to progress from last season. “We finished 10th, the group are hungry and they want to improve on that.
“I don’t like making predictions because you don’t know what other teams are coming into the season like.
“We are under no illusions that to get out of this division will be very difficult but we have put everything in place to give us the best possible chance of doing that.”
Turning his attention to the big kick-off on Saturday, Eastaugh is confident that Sudbury’s tough pre-season schedule will stand them in good stead.
“We’ve had an extremely tough pre-season but that was not by accident. We wanted to make sure we were fit and ready going into the new season,” he added.
“We are ready to go, we planned pre-season meticulously in terms of the run- up to it and everything has gone as planned.
“Cray Wanderers are a little bit of an unknown for us, having been relegated last season and so we haven’t played them.
“However, we’ve had them watched and know a little bit about them now so we are as prepared as we can be.
“It is a difficult start to the new season and we are under no illusion that we need to hit the ground running.”
n Former chairman Phil Turner has returned to the position at AFC Sudbury.
Turner was elected to resume the role he relinquished before the start of last season. His comeback to the Wardale Williams Stadium ends the club’s year-long spell running without a chairman.