Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sport - By An­drew Gi­d­ley

Danny Lye be­lieves Ash­ford United will be favourites to win the South­ern Coun­ties East League, Pre­mier Di­vi­sion ti­tle this sea­son.

Player-boss Lye com­pleted his squad build­ing last week with the dou­ble sign­ing of Hol­lands & Blair pair de­fender Stu­art West and mid­fielder Tom Michel­son, who join for­mer team-mate Brett Ince at Home­lands.

Lye said: “I want us to be favourites and we will be with the qual­ity of the sign­ings we have made.

“How­ever, I have been in teams be­fore who have been tipped to win it (as a player) and then start the sea­son di­a­bol­i­cally and find them­selves in mid-ta­ble.

“(As­sis­tant) Shaun Welford and I will use our ex­pe­ri­ence to keep the boys grounded and work­ing hard. We have got to earn the right to be top.”

Lye added: “I have known Stu­art for years and we played Sun­day foot­ball to­gether.

“He brings great de­fen­sive qual­i­ties and also goals. He scored 16 last sea­son and is a big threat at set-pieces which is an area we must im­prove on.

“He was a striker at one time but (for­mer Blair boss) Paul Pig­gott switched him to cen­tre-half and got a lot more out of him.

“Tom will give us height, strength and goals and is ca­pa­ble of do­ing the nasty things in mid­field.”

Mean­while, de­fender Char­lie Dick­ens will be do­ing pre-sea­son with Ry­man League, Pre­mier Di­vi­sion Har­low Town, while Josh Wool­ley looks set to try his luck else­where.

Lye said: “It’s a bit of a shame to lose Char­lie be­cause he was one of my favourites last sea­son.

“He has got an agent and has re­ceived a few of­fers. There’s no of­fer on the ta­ble for him, so he will be try­ing to im­press.”

Mid­fielder Dan Stubbs has un­der­gone re­con­struc­tive knee surgery after be­ing in­jured in the FA Vase win at New­port (IOW) in Jan­uary.

United be­gin pre-sea­son train­ing at Sandy­acres on Satur­day, with around 25 play­ers set to be in­volved.

The club held a sec­ond Fans Fo­rum on Tues­day night.

Around 80 sup­port­ers turned up to hear the lat­est news about on and off the field mat­ters.

A new 100 Club has been formed, run by Ernie War­ren and Ja­son Whit­more, while Sharon Dal­ton has taken on the role of Fund Rais­ing and En­ter­tain­ments Sec­re­tary.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Denise Peach said: “Ev­ery­one is ex­cited about the new sea­son.”

The Kent County League un­veiled a new spon­sor at their an­nual meet­ing in Sit­ting­bourne last night (Wed­nes­day).

A three-year deal has been agreed with of­fi­cial teamwear sup­plier An­dreas Carter Sports.

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