Newark Town manager Tony Joynes is optimistic about his side’s chances in the Central Midlands League North Division as pre-season preparations get under way.
Joynes said the club was trying to regroup after the unexpected departure of joint manager Nicky Andersen, who only joined in May.
Andersen was offered a position at Leicester Nirvana, who play two steps higher than Newark in the United Counties League.
It means Joynes will be going it alone as his side try to better their seventh-placed finish in the league last season and challenge for promotion.
Joynes said: “Nicky was going to bring in some other players and those he was bringing in would have been good additions to the squad.
“He was going to bring six or seven in, some of whom I had worked with at Harrowby.
“We have tried to regroup and speak about what direction we are going in.
“We have had three training sessions and the majority of the players who were here last year have signed up again.”
Newark Town were back in training for the first time last week and are preparing for their first pre-season friendly at Southwell City on Wednesday next week.
Joynes said: “I always aim to get the maximum points out of the league and the league is the main competition I will be focusing on.
“With the prospect of a new ground coming in the next couple of years we are hoping to attract some good players.”
Joynes thought Newark Town should have won the league last season — but instead their form faltered in the later months and they finished seventh.
“It has been the case in the last couple of seasons at Newark where we have done well up to Christmas and then fallen away at the back end of the season,” he said.
“Having a regular settled side counts for a lot and we picked up good results at the back-end of last season because we had a settled side.
“That is something we want to look at, working with a small group of players rather than working with a large squad of players.”
'Playing with a smile on their face'
Joynes said he wanted his team to enjoy playing football this season.
“The last thing I want is to get beaten by three, four or five goals,” he said.
“I want to make sure everyone is happy with what they are doing and playing with a smile on their face, and if we can pick up results while doing that it is a bonus.”
Joynes said he would be keeping a close eye on young players he had not yet seen in training.
“Our neighbours are making lots of signings — we have Newark Flowserve, Collingham and Southwell, which is only eight miles down the road — and we are all playing at the same level of football.
“You have got four teams at a similar playing level within an eight-mile radius so it is about trying to sell Newark Town to them as where they should be playing football.
“We have got that prospect of a new ground in the next couple of years so that is an offer we can put to them.”
Joynes said Town would have a good under-21 squad next season and he was hoping to utilise some of their players in the first team.
Town have arranged six pre-season friendlies, all away from home, beginning with the trip to local rivals Southwell.
On the following Saturday they will go to Notts Senior League side FC Cavaliers (3pm).
There will be two further matches against Notts Senior League sides — Kirton Brickworks (Wednesday, July 19, 7pm) and Bingham Town (Saturday, July 22, 3pm).
Harrowby United are the hosts on July 26 (7.45pm) before the final pre-season fixture at Central Midlands League side Pinxton on Saturday, July 29.
Town’s new league season will start on Saturday, August 5.