Bognor boss Jack Pearce is urging for patience from the fans this year as he puts the final pieces together of one of the youngest Rocks squads in recent memory.
As the Nyewood Lane side play their last pre-season match tonight away at Gosport Borough (7.45pm), the experienced manager says he’s still got a few places to fill.
After a disappointing relegation campaign last year where a lack of goals was the biggest problem, Rocks fans will be hoping a return to Bostik Premier can deliver more victories than losses over the next nine months.
But, a week before the season kicks off away at Haringey Borough (Aug 11, 3pm), Pearce is keen to cool down any talk that life in the third tier of non-league football will be a breeze.
Instead, he called for patience, adding it would be a few weeks yet until he had pieced together a settled squad.
The Bognor boss said: “I think we’re moving in the right direction, which is good.
“The squad is getting stronger but, at Bognor, we have always had to understand that we are not the priority on everyone’s list.
“We have to wait for people playing further away to start looking for alternatives. We have always been a club that has to wait for the last few places to fill.”
Among the positions that Pearce is looking to fill are left back, central defence and an experienced central midfielder.
Pearce said the latter would help complement ‘four or five excellent young players’ that we have.
Included within this is Marley Ridge, who has joined from Havant & Waterlooville on loan and has looked composed when starting a number of pre-season fixtures.
Rocks fans who headed to Salisbury last Friday also got their first glimpse of Portsmouth loan duo Dan Smith and Brad Lethbridge. The pair played well in what turned out to be a 1-0 victory for the Rocks, sealed by a first half Calvin Davies strike.
On the new signings, Pearce said: “They have all done well, all seem to be enjoying it.
“The whole team did quite well at Salisbury especially in the first half, but it’s early days.
“Like anything, when putting a squad together there will be highs and lows.
“It is one of the youngest teams that I put together at this level. But I will always believe that the type of club we are, the location we are in, we can only go for young hungry players who have something to prove.”
And as for a target for the season ahead?
Pearce said: “There are always going to be certain players who’ll be more influential than others. If we can keep them fit and free from suspension then we can beat anyone in the league. But youth does deliver inconsistency.”
On where they could finish, he added: “I don’t want to be fighting a relegation battle.”