Eastwood CFC host their first pre-season friendly of the summer this weekend, with new boss Jez Corthorn optimistic about his side’s chances for the upcoming campaign.
Former Hucknall Rolls Leisure manager Corthorn took over from Matt McCaul in May and will take charge for the first time against Blaby & Whetstone at the Play Soccer USA 3G Arena on Saturday, with a first team game kicking off at 2pm and the two teams’ reserve sides then meeting at 4pm.
And with almost an entirely new squad for fans to cast their eye over, Corthorn is looking forward to the challenge.
He said: “We’ve had a really good turnout for the training sessions so far, with around 30 at the last one and still with a good few to return from holidays.
“A couple of lads have stayed on from last season but we’ve brought most of the squad we had at Rolls with us which will help in many ways because they already know each other in a playing sense and are friends too.
“But we’re still aiming to bring more in as we want a good squad of around 20 if we’re to compete. We’ll have a reserve side and academy teams too which we can draw players from and that will be a big help.”
Corthorn and his assistant Jonathan Wass were appointed at Eastwood following the demise of Hucknall Rolls at the end of last season, the duo having led the team to a seventh place finish in the Central Midlands League South - three places higher than the Badgers.
Corthorn added: “We were told we could only have one team at Rolls next season and it basically meant we could no longer function as a club.
“We then asked about the Eastwood job and had an interview with the directors and it went from there.
“It’s an exciting challenge given the scale of the facilities here and we’ve had several players ring us of their own accord to enquire about signing, no doubt keen to be part of what at this kind of level is a huge setup.”
As for his aims for next season, Corthorn is keen to see Eastwood challenge at the top of the table and aim for a promotion spot.
He said: “Promotion has to be the target and we’ll be postive from the off. I know this level having managed at it for a couple of years and the players are adapting well to the fact they’ll play on the 3G surface too.
“The pitch will help a lot given it’ll mean no lost training sessions or matches due to weather, which at this level is a common problem. It means we’ll be able to avoid long gaps without games - at one point last season we went six weeks or so without playing.
“I get on well with the academy coach here and we’ve already had some of the younger lads train with us so I can see that being a big asset as I’m always keen to use young players.”
Eastwood this week announced they will have U21 and U19 teams playing in the North Midlands Development League next season.
The official opening of the new 3G pitch will take place on Monday, July 25 when Notts County will be the visitors for a 7pm kick-off.