Dean Greygoose has warned his established Mildenhall Town players that nobody is guaranteed a starting role in his side this season.
The Hall made an inconsistent start to 2015-16, but they rallied after Christmas to record a sixth-place finish in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division and clinch the League Challenge Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
That success coincided with February’s arrival of experienced striker Chris Bacon, who went on to notch 12 goals in 13 appearances.
Bacon has been joined in attack this summer by the well-travelled Stephen Spriggs, while the likes of George Tolliday, Alex Stillinger and Ross Munro have also been recruited.
However, with a number of the under-18 squad catching the eye in recent weeks, Greygoose is adamant that neither of his high profile frontmen, nor any other squad members, can afford to rest on their laurels.
“I have not needed to chase players this summer. They have been approaching us, which is pleasing,” said the ex-Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper.
“I wanted a squad that is full of competition and I feel that is now coming together.
“The players know that if they are not performing, there are people waiting to take their place.
“It does not matter what they are earning. If a 16 or 17-year-old is playing better, they will be in the team.
“I will not be changing the team for the sake of it and it is important the players are aware that one bad game will not cost them.
“But it is all about having options and with some good youngsters coming through, I have that.”
Having finished the previous term so strongly, Greygoose’s men are being talked about as potential promotion candidates prior to the curtain raiser with Ely on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
The 51-year-old is well aware of the expectation, yet he is only targeting an improvement on the previous campaign’s showing.
“We have a top six budget and that is where we finished last season,” Greygoose added.
“People think that we should be going up this time, but we have not chucked money at it.
“The aim is to finish higher than sixth and to keep on progressing.
“We have plans to move things on this year from a tactical point of view, so hopefully that will help make that happen.”
Mildenhall will make the short trip to Ely without the services of Gareth Simpson.
The veteran midfielder is currently nursing a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for at least the next three weeks.
Versatile defender Joe Asensi will also be absent due to a holiday.