GREAT Wakering Rovers captain Lewis Sparrow says no-one at the club is thinking about relegation, on the eve of the new season.
Sparrow led Rovers to a league and cup double last year and now, two years after they were relegated to the Essex Senior League, the skipper wants them to establish themselves as a Ryman Division One North club.
In fact, Sparrow said manager Dan Trenkel hadn’t even discussed where they were aiming to finish the new season, instead choosing to focus on the season’s first opponents – Needham Market.
“We haven’t really discussed where we could finish this season,” said Sparrow. “We want to take it a game at a time, but I believe we can achieve mid-table this year and anything beyond that would be a big bonus. We aren’t thinking about relegation.
“We have been able to keep a lot of people from last year which is a massive boost. We have been together for two years and know each other’s games inside and out which, at this level, could make a big difference.”
Rovers scored a staggering 112 goals last year, mainly due to their attacking style of play and Sparrow admits they may need to rein in some of that free-flowing football.
“We got away with playing three at the back last season. But I don’t think we will this time around. We will have a more solid shape and that will allow us to carry on playing the game we love the way we want to play it. We aren’t going to change our style of play because we have gone up and are playing tougher opposition.”
Rovers have added Eljay Worrell and Andrea Mantovani to their squad, but look set to go into the opening match with a fully-fit squad. Sparrow himself suffered a groin injury in pre-season but says he is ready to go tomorrow.
“It has been a really good pre-season. We have trained very hard and have been in a really confident mood as the matches have progressed. Everyone looks fit and that is exactly what the manager wanted to see.”
Sparrow says he has played last year’s play-off contenders Needham Market in the past, and expects a tough challenge again.
“I have played against them before and they are a very well organised side with excellent facilities.
“It will be nice playing at some new grounds and it will be good to go on some different away days with the boys too.
“We have been out of the division for two years and now we are back we want to make sure we stay here.”