Daventry Town manager Darran Foster is confident his team will launch a serious promotion challenge – even though one of his star performers has exited the club on the eve of the new season.
Centre-back Kyle Cartwright has upped sticks in a last-minute pre-season move to his home town club Hinckley United.
Cartwright lives only five minutes from the Hinckley ground but knows the Communications Park doors will be open to him if things do not work out at the Leicestershire club, which has a history of financial problems.
“Kyle was outstanding at the heart of our defence last season and won two player-of-the-year awards,” said Foster. “We fully understand his reasons for leaving and wish him every future success.”
Fortunately for Daventry, Foster has an abundance of quality central defenders headed by club captain Guy Sanders, former Cobblers player Liam Dolman and experienced Birmingham-based stopper Marcel Simpson.
Full-backs Joe Coleman and Oli Wilkinson have also been taken on.
On the credit side the Town have also signed teenage striker Deqwon Ebanks on a three-month loan deal from Tamworth.
The ex-Birmingham City academy player will be expected to link up with in-form Ashley Robinson to provide added firepower following Tom Lorraine’s long-term injury.
Unbeaten in pre-season friendlies, Daventry will be looking for all three points when the Southern League programme kicks-off this Saturday with a home game against Ashford Town at Communications Park.
And Foster, who, together with his father John, has picked up an FA “highly recommended” trophy for groundsmen attached to step three and step four clubs, said: “There is no reason why we can’t challenge for a place in the central division play-offs.
“Dark horses we may be but our defence last season was as good as any in the league with the possible exception of Godalming. Add to that the increased firepower in midfield provided by Chris Murphy and the arrival of Deqwon Ebanks.”
Meanwhile, Foster has fallen into line with many other Southern League pundits by predicting that Slough Town, Royston and Rugby Town will also challenge for honours this season. Dunstable are seen as the best of the new recruits.
“Slough seem to miss out season after season but, like Rugby, are sleeping giants at this level,” he said.
“Our local rivals Rugby can’t be discounted either and Royston are said to have signed a number of quality players from nearby Cambridge United.
“Clearly there will be no shortage of candidates for the top-five places.”