BUT WE MUST STAY GROUNDED, ADMITS LYE
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.