‘We feel well prepared for the start of the season’ - Gusterson on Dereham Town’s opener
- Credit: Archant
Adam Gusterson has targeted a battle at the top end of the table as Dereham begin their BetVictor North Division campaign today.
The Magpies, who were battling relegation before Gusterson and Olly Willis arrived in January to steer them clear of stormy waters, begin with a home game against Aveley.
The visitors were runners-up last season, failing to win promotion via the play-offs, while Dereham finished 14th.
When the sides met in the corresponding fixture in January it was Gusterson's and Willis's second game in charge and the two sides fought out an excellent 1-1 draw.
The Magpies look to have a more balanced squad this term, with a good mixture of talented youngsters and experience so there will be competition for all places and several options for the management team.
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"It has been a positive pre-season campaign for us," said Gusterson. "The attitude and work rate of the players has been excellent and we feel well prepared for the start of the season.
"Our opening fixture against Aveley will be challenging.
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"It's going to be a tough game against a side who finished runners-up last season. It's an exciting game for us to start the season with and will be a very good marker for us to see how we compete against one of the division's fancied sides.
"If we have aspirations to be at the right end of the table this season then we have to be able to compete with teams such as Aveley. We feel well prepared and hopefully that will be evident within our performance."
New signings Jake Imrie, Eoin McQuaid, Charlie Clarke, Toby Hilliard and Robbie Linford will be in the squad, but David Hinton is suspended and Adam Smith also misses out with an ankle injury.
"We have bought in five, with another one to come in, too," Gusterson added. "The lads we have bought in really fit into our style, both in terms of character and ability and I feel we have a stronger squad going into this season than last, which is what we always set out to achieve from one season to the next."
Gusterson has named Hinton as first team captain, with Shaun Wones vice-captain and Elliot Pride club captain.