Newmarket Town have seen plans to install a 3G pitch postponed, but their manager believes the team can still make it a memorable campaign.
Kevin Grainger has tipped his Jockeys side to be one of the serious contenders in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division this season.
They get their 2015/16 campaign under way with a trip to Kirkley and Pakefield on Saturday (3pm), before visiting newly-promoted Saffron Walden Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
And despite seeing plans for an artificial 3G pitch to be installed at their Cricket Field Road home postponed until next season, Grainger is confident Newmarket can be in the mix for a high finish.
“We hope to be serious contenders this season,” the Newmarket boss said. “Catching up with the champions Norwich United may be one step too far.
“But it’s our third year back in the Premier and we’ve finished ninth and sixth so far.
“If we are to improve on that we will need to start taking our chances. We must be one of the teams who create the most chances in the league.
“We’ve got to take them if we’re going to be serious contenders this season.”
Out of the top six sides from last season, Newmarket scored the least (68) and conceded the most (55) amount of goals. Joey Abbs has dropped down a level from Soham Town Rangers to join Newmarket, and the striker has already found the net in pre-season friendly wins over Stowmarket Town (4-0), West Wratting (3-1) and Haverhill Borough (3-0).
Grainger managed to keep hold of most of last season’s squad which led the club to their highest finish in the Premier Division for 19 years.
Highly-rated centre-forward Steve Holder has re-signed with the club, after initially looking like signing for Ryman League Division One North Wroxham in the summer.
“Steve’s going to miss at least the first month of the season we think,” said Grainger about the striker who scored eight goals in 15 appearances at the end of last season for the Jockeys.
“He’s had an operation on his ankle and his absence will be a massive blow for us. He was originally going to Wroxham.
“But he said he loved it here at the club, and although he did want to play higher up, he had to keep travelling and that put him off from signing there.”
Grainger admits he may still add a couple more signings to complete his squad, but insists he always had no intentions of a complete overhaul during the summer.
“There’s a lot to be said for Norwich who won the league with the same team they’ve had for a few years,” he said.
“We’ve almost got the same group of players we had last season and the lads have all come back fit. I only ever try to bring in two, or possibly three new players in to strengthen the squad.”