JOHN Sussex is challenging Basildon United’s trialists to prove why they should feature in his squad for the upcoming season when they take on Epping Town tonight.

Sussex is keen to trim his squad over the course of the next week.

And so he is calling on trialists to take their opportunity on the pitch with both hands.

“It’s a relaxed friendly and we will be using it almost as a practice match,” said Sussex, who took over as manager in March.

“We have had 36 different players training with us over the course of the 12 sessions so far and we need to get the squad down to 22 players in the next week or so.

“I’ll be using this game as a chance to give the trialists an opportunity to get some minutes on the pitch.

“It’s up to them to prove why they should be with us as we go into the new season.

“There will also be a couple of senior players who have missed a bit of pre-season playing tonight because they need some minutes.”

Epping ply their trade in the Essex Olympian League and they will face the Bees at the Basildon-based Woodlands School this evening.

And Sussex believes Epping will put the trialists through their paces.

“We know it will be a stern test and it will give us an idea of where we are at the moment,” added the Bees chief.

“It will make us think about the players and reinforce our opinions.

“Although the trialists have been great in training, there is nothing like seeing them in games.

“We have been rebuilding the squad over the course of the summer and there are only four players still at the club since when I took over.”

Although Sussex knows he needs to allow some trialists to depart, he is not looking forward to telling players they do not have a future at the Cousins Car Wash Stadium.

“The players’ attitude has been first class and their commitment has been great as well,” admitted Sussex.

“They are a really good group, so it will be difficult to make a choice and tell some players that they will not make it with us at Basildon.

“It’s not necessarily a case of them not being good enough because the reason can sometimes be that we simply prefer someone else.”

While Sussex has been busy in the transfer market, he has also made alterations to his backroom staff.

George Young has joined the coaching team after a stint at Aveley and Sussex is pleased with the impact he has made.

“Training has been very intense,” confirmed Sussex.

“George has devised a programme and the players have been wanting to improve their fitness.

“Everyone is feeling good and some players have told me they haven’t felt this fit at this stage of pre-season before.”