Chichester City believe they are putting together a strong squad for the new season – and want to make their mark in all competitions.
Boss Miles Rutherford is talking to ‘talented young local players’ he thinks will strengthen his team and wants them to do well in the league and in knockout competitions including the FA Cup.
A strong set of pre-season fixtures will set City up for a campaign in which they will look to improve on their third-place Southern Combination premier-division finish in 2016-17.
Pre-season fixtures see them take on a number of top sides, including former Pompey fans’ favorite Steve Claridge’s Salisbury. Bognor are also visitors to Oaklands Park.
Chi City boss Miles Rutherford, who was linked with the manager’s job at Bognor, said: “Bognor is a top game for us. It’s the game we wanted to be honest if we could choose one pre-season fixture.
“We’ll expect a good crowd at Oaklands on a Friday evening for that. There’s obviously lots of connections between the two clubs and Tommy Block, Jimmy Wild and Lorenzo Dolcetti have featured for both City and the Rocks.
“The pre-season friendlies should set us up nicely for the upcoming campaign. We’ve got Wessex League opposition in Hamble who were promoted to the Premier League this year and Alresford. AFC Totton from the Southern League and Hastings will be good tests for us too.”
First-team coach Danny Potter said: “We’re looking forward to pre-season. The type of opposition we’re playing shows what other people think of our club.”
The pair remained tightlipped about new players who might be coming in. Rutherford said: “We’re talking to a number of talented young local players to bolster the squad. There will be signings that will help us build on last year’s success.”
In a memorable season, Chichester went unbeaten for almost six months in the league and advanced to the fourth round of the FA Vase. They ran out steam at the end of the season but finished third in the SCFL premier.
Rutherford said: “We’re building more depth in our squad this summer. We want players that will come in and compete for places.”
Potter added: “That only two players are leaving speaks volumes. Jamie Horncastle is going to Pagham and Alex Collard has graduated from the University of Chichester and is heading home to play for Aylesbury. We wish both players all the best.”
City welcome back marksman Scott Jones. The No9, who bagged more than 30 goals in all competitions in 2016-17, missed the last six weeks of the season. Central midfielder George Way, who had two previous spells at the club, has also re-signed.
Rutherford added: “We want to compete in every competition this year. I’d like us to make more of a statement in the FA Cup and get through the early rounds. We definitely see ourselves as challengers for the league, knowing there will be others.”
City’s season starts with the preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday, August 5.
City pre-season games: Thursday, July 6 – Salisbury H 7:45pm; Tuesday, July 11 – Hamble A 6:45pm; Friday, July 14 – Bognor H 7:30pm; Tuesday, July 18 – Alresford H 7:45pm; Friday, July 21 – Christchurch A 8pm (Steve Bernard memorial game); Saturday, July 29 – Totton A 3pm; Tuesday, August 1 – Hastings H 7:45pm; Date TBC – Midhurst H.
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