Aylesbury United boss Tony Joyce says he and his players are raring to go ahead of their return to the Southern League this Saturday, but admits goals are a concern.
The Ducks entertain last season’s losing play-off finalists Rugby Town at Bell Close, Leighton (3pm) in the curtain raiser on Saturday.
But they will have to make do without talismanic goalscorer Stacey Field and his strike partner Louis Austin, who between them scored the majority of United’s goals last season.
Field was expected to miss the opening month, and potentially the all-important first ever competitive match against bitter rivals Aylesbury FC.
But while he is definitely out of the opening two games, Joyce revealed he is 10 days away from a return.
“While Louis will probably be out for quite some time yet, Stacey should hopefully be back in 10 days, and apparently we’ve got a local derby around that time!” Joyce quipped.
“Goals are a bit of a concern to me because losing Stace and Louis is a big blow.
“Between the pair of them they scored something like 60 or 70 goals last season so that’s hard to replace.
“But it gives other players the chance and we have brought players in so hopefully they can get the goals in the meantime and put pressure on.”
The goalscoring burden will fall, at least in the short-term, on the shoulders of new signing Dean Allen.
Joyce has been impresssed with the forward, who scored three goals in pre-season.
His signing came off the back of securing all of last season’s squad and supplementing it with the signings of Keith Williams, Matt Kimani, Bill Morgan, Richard Armstrong, Dom Petrucci and Lee Grace.
Joyce said Geoff Mitchell, a 6ft 5” striker who impressed during pre-season games for the club – and who also turned out for Aylesbury FC in pre-season – had moved to London and signed for Redbridge.
Joyce says that given a fully fit squad he is happy with his dealings.
But with defensive rock John Mulholland out for the season, veteran Paul Edgeworth out with a hamstring injury, Joey Acheampong recovering from injury and new signing Grace also injured he admitted he may yet have to make further additions.
Looking ahead to the visit of Rugby and the season as a whole, Joyce said he is confident the side can more than hold their own.
“We’re not going to pull up any trees but we will hold our own I’m sure of it,” Joyce said.
“I’m not saying we’re going to win the league but every player will get the chance to prove they are good enough for this level and if they do, they will play even more because the lads deserve it.
“Rugby are a good side, it’s a tough one to start with but what I want is some points on the board before that fourth game against FC, and I’m sure Craig (Faulconbridge, FC manager) will tell you the same thing.”
“It’s exciting but the season isn’t just about those games, there are lots of local derbies and good non-league sides in the league.”