Poppies just want the season to start now

Joint-managers Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin have finalised their squad ahead of this weekend's first game of the season
Joint-managers Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin have finalised their squad ahead of this weekend's first game of the season
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Thomas Baillie insists Kettering Town just want the new season to start after they made the finishing touches to their squad.

The Poppies begin their Southern League Division One Central campaign when they entertain Aylesbury United at Latimer Park tomorrow (Saturday), which is immediately followed by another home clash with Northwood on Tuesday.

And, despite the club announcing a 26-man squad yesterday (Thursday), joint-manager Baillie believes that high number will “settle down” during the opening weeks of the season.

Ash Robinson, Alfie Taylor, Avelino Vieira and Ryan Walker have all joined the Poppies after impressing in pre-season while 17-year-old Reubus Richard-Noel has also signed Southern League forms after a couple of fine displays during the build-up.

Nat Liburd and Jake Newman have already joined Oadby Town on month-long loan deals and Baillie believes more movement will be made early in the campaign.

But he insists the competition for places is vital as Kettering aim to launch a challenge for the title having missed out on promotion in the play-off final last season.

“There has been a lot of work that has gone into it over the summer and we just need to start playing now,” the Poppies joint-boss said.

“Without any doubt, we have improved the squad that finished last season. We have added in the areas we needed to and I am certain that this squad is stronger than the one we had at the end of the last campaign.

“It looks a large squad at this stage but I expect that to settle down. Players want to be playing and others will go out on loan, some will go into our under-21s when they start.

“And I am sure there is a chance that one or two will leave as things pan out. That’s the nature of it.

“We feel the squad is strong and while it is up to me and Scott (fellow joint-boss Machin) to get the preparations right, it will be up to the players to perform.

“We have plenty of competition in every position and players will be picked on how they perform, which is the way it should be.

“We have some big decisions to make for the first game but we just want to get started now.”

The Kettering joint-managers are set to have a fully fit squad to choose from for the opening game, although they will be without key summer signing Brett Solkhon who serves a one-match ban which carried over from last season.

Keep up to date with Kettering Town’s progress throughout the season on this website, in the Northamptonshire Telegraph every Thursday and by following our football reporter Jon Dunham on Twitter @JonDunhamNT