WOODFORD United manager Phil Mason will be able to call upon his rising pool of talented young stars from the youth team to fill any gaps that might arise in his first-team squad throughout the season.
And the Reds will be looking to consolidate their position in the Evostik Central Division, with all but Tommy Kinch re-signing for this season.
Tommy has joined Ady Fuller at Banbury United and all at Woodford wish him well for the future.
Chairman Andy Worrall said that with the addition of Sid Hawkins – who has returned after a short spell at Aylesbury – and Jamie Broadbent, along with Jamie Wright from Cogenhoe, the squad looked on paper to be in a healthy position for the start of the campaign.
He said: “With the major decision to improve our youth set up in the summer with the appointment of the experienced Pete Harris in charge of Youth development, Phil Mason will now have the opportunity of selecting some very competent 18-year-old players from the reserves and youth team.
“Pete Harris and Paul Oddy, the new reserve team manager, have brought in an exciting crop of youngsters from the area, many of them have been in the squad throughout the pre-season fixtures and stood the test well, which with the help of all the new coaching staff should stand Woodford in good stead for the future.”
Unlike some clubs in the area which have decided against running a reserve team, Woodford feel development in this area is an essential part of the future of the club.
Woodford manager Phil Mason said the club was encouraging the best youngsters in the area to come forward for their chance to play first-team football.
He also praised his “loyal base of players” at Byfield Road some of whom had been with him for six to seven years which was “quite unique”.
“It’s fantastic really. I must be doing something right,” he joked.
Of the new season he said: “I’m realistic. I think it is very important to get off to a good start.”
Woodford face a tough opener as the Reds again travel to North Greenford on Saturday, the opening day, before entertaining promotion-favorites St Neots on Tuesday, August 16. Kick off 7.30pm.
Woodford’s pre-season has gone well with wins against Brackley Town, Northampton Town, Kidlington and draws against Abingdon and Ardley. The only defeat was at the hands of Oxford City.
“With the main aim again for the season to stay away from the danger of relegation, the performances throughout pre-season have given the Woodford faithful hope that they will be competing at the other end of the table...only time will tell though as another tough season is about to commence,” added Worrall.