Wroxham boss Batch praises improved strength in depth ahead of club’s historic Ryman League bow
Wroxham boss David Batch is counting on his side's strength in depth to stand them in good stead when they make their Ryman Division One North bow this afternoon.
The Yachtsmen begin their historical campaign at Step Four of the non-league ladder against Potters Bar Town without captain Graham Challen and last season's top scorer Paul Cook.
The injured duo are among a handful of players who will miss Wroxham's trip to Hertfordshire but Batch remains upbeat about his promoted outfit's chances.
The Eastern Counties Premier Division title-winning manager said: 'Numbers wise we're fine. We've got a very strong squad, much stronger than last season.
'We've got a lot more options this year with the versatility of the players. The emergence of one or two players, perhaps unexpectedly, have really impressed us to. We were not sure if they would have made as much difference as they have but they've made a real impact.
'We were the top scorers last season and we've played without our two forwards from that campaign throughout pre-season. That seems to suggest we may have had an issue up front this summer but others have come in and done well and we've scored plenty of goals.
'We've also been without Graham Challen our captain who played in a defence that conceded the least goals last season. But we've still kept clean sheets in pre-season.
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'The squad's in much stronger shape than it was but it doesn't take away from the importance that those players will bring when they come back.'
Challen is recovering from a broken ankle while Cook is not match fit after missing most of pre-season with a knee ligament problem. Ben Thompson (knee ligament), Jamie Spellar (groin), Joe Marsden (knee) and Ben Jones (unavailable) are also all missing.
Another player who will be absent for the Yachtsmen's Ryman League opener is midfielder David Hinton who has joined Thurlow Nunn (Eastern Counties) Premier Division Gorleston on a three-month loan.
Batch said of Hinton: 'We don't want to stop his progress. He stepped up two levels to join a championship winning side and played about 20 games.
'He hasn't done quite enough during pre-season to make the team for now so we've let him go to Gorleston. It's the best club in the area to send him to.
'They've got great facilities, play the right way and it's no surprise to me that they've started the season so well. It's a good move for both parties, and David, who I expect to go and make an impact there.'
An encouraging pre-season, which saw Wroxham lose just one of their 10 pre-season matches, has kept spirits high ahead of today's clash with The Scholars, who finished 12th last campaign.
However, ahead of leading the first Norfolk side into a Ryman League clash, Batch insists those friendly results don't matter - just a positive result against Potters Bar does.
He said: 'I don't take any notice of friendly results. More or less every game has been a Wroxham XI. We haven't really been in a position to play what we might think is our strongest starting line-up in pre-season. But that's the nature of pre-season.
'The first day of the season is always exciting. But we want to go there and win, or try and come back with a positive result. We're just looking forward to getting down there. It's all about winning now. It doesn't matter how excited you are. If you lose there's instantly disappointment.'