MANAGER Rob Cousins believes Yate Town can compete with the big boys in Southern League Division One South and West despite working with a smaller playing budget than last season.
The Bluebells get the new campaign underway with a home game against Cinderford Town on Saturday (3pm).
Although Cousins admits he has found it hard to compete with other clubs in the division financially, he has added three new faces to the squad following successful trials in addition to the summer signings of Tom Warren, Dale Evans and Andy Lewis to compensate for the departures of Mike Bryant, Connor Clifford and Tom Seery.
Midfielder Liam Knight has joined from Brislington, while left-sided player Nuno Felix has returned to the club from Clevedon Town and Rob Perry, who played with goalkeeper Martin Horsell at Torquay United in the 2006-07 season, will add competition on the opposite flank.
Cousins says patience may be required as he moves away from the 4-4-2 system that they used for most of last season with a tough start which sees them face Swindon Supermarine, AFC Totton, Evesham United, Sholing and Mangotsfield United before the end of August, but he hopes they will soon be near the top and challenging to improve on last season’s ninth place finish.
He said: “Michael Meaker (assistant manager) has done a UEFA coaching course and came back with new ideas to suit us with the players we have got which we are working with.
“You ask for time to work with it and hopefully we’ll reap the benefits.
“We can’t carry people with a small squad and tight budget, we’ve got to stick with together.
“We have got a tough month ahead with a difficult start. The league is going to be tougher this year.
“As a player I always wanted to be at the top so you have to believe in that and work to that.
“It might take time to get into the groove, but hopefully we won’t be too late.
“If we can get off to a good start against tough opposition it will bode well for the rest of the season.
“I’m hoping to have a bit of leeway to start with but it’s been difficult to bring in players.”
Bradley Abraham is rated 50-50 for the opening game after suffering a thigh strain against Cadbury Heath and Tom Warren suffered the same injury against Bath City, with Tuesday’s trip to Swindon Supermarine looking a more likely return date for him.
Jake Cox is facing a prolonged spell on the sidelines after he was unable to take the cast off his wrist and has to go for a scan.
Cousins will make a late decision on who will be his club captain, with Warren, Joe Chandler and Horsell all in contention.