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Pre season starts here

Well, sort of.

So the players are finally back at training, hopefully relaxed and raring to go. Though I can’t be the only one who thinks close season went a little bit too quickly…

There are always questions whenever players return from their break. Are they fit enough? Are they refreshed enough? And I don’t just mean from their Las Vegas piss up post-Wembley.

Are we going to get any radical new tactics like we did last year? I bloody hope not. Will we keep the winning formula going instead? We’d be stupid not to, and if nothing else I hope we’ve learned that painful lesson.

And of course, we’ve had the obligatory “look at how much the new players have fitted in already” OS piece. Come on, they’re not going to say they’ve already turned out to be a bunch of useless cunts…

Last week, we added the third of the four strikers we need for the next campaign, one Dominic Poleon. By the sound of it, he’s our new Azeez, namely somebody who I expect we’ll see coming off the bench a lot.

Choice of words are deliberate.

There’s been plenty of rumour about who the fourth and final forward will be, suggestions it’s one of two players from Shrewsbury have as yet not come to fruition.

It seems a feature of this time of year that any bit of speculation – no matter how outlandish – somehow becomes scripture decree from many millennia ago

The thing is, providing we don’t lose either one of Taylor or Elliott, we might be able to bide our time just a tad instead. In theory, we could start the first proper game tomorrow with the squad we’ve got, though obviously we’d prefer to strengthen some more before then.

It can be quite easy to panic buy just to fill up the numbers, and IIRC we were warned (?) a bit earlier by NA that we might be signing players later rather than sooner.

We’re still four weeks away from Walsall, and lest we forget that Lyle Taylor signed for us on 14 July last year, when we had played a couple of PSFs.

So it’s best not to panic just yet, and one senses the most important thing is to get our star striker on an improved deal ASAP. We’d be utterly crazy not to, certainly, and one hopes Taylor himself sees AFCW as the place to be for now.

We’ll eventually lose him, you’d have to be pretty sodding naive to believe otherwise, and as long as we can minimise that fallout we’ll be fine.

Reading around various forums recently, it does appear that other L1 teams are losing their own strikers (Kemar Roofe is linked to Leeds right now, par example), so you would have to expect our own #33 is amongst that little lot.

Yes, it would weaken us if we went, but other teams are in exactly the same boat. So we might need to get somebody in soon(ish) after all, or you’re picking who’s available rather than who you actually want.

All this said, and for some reason, we tend to sign players on Thursday/Friday rather than earlier in the week, so no doubt half of what you’ve just read will be obsolete come the weekend…

Still, things are starting to click into gear again. Last week’s kit launch went very well, especially consider it was People’s Sunday at the tennis, and the usual MTM/open training sessions are announced for the week before Walsall.

While it will be odd not to have the first PSF on a Saturday, I think we’ll all be glad to return to action at Dover. Which, by the way, could see a low turnout as it’s £15.

No WUM. And it’s in Kent. In the evening as well.

By the sound of it, many more will be heading towards Hartsdown Park instead the following Saturday. Margate always seems like one of those “traditional” fixtures that makes you realise the season is round the corner.

You can picture the scene already. Warm(ish) weather, dodgy chips on the seafront, half the afternoon spent in those penny arcade places that end up being more enjoyable than the actual game.

And a realisation that it was only a decade ago we were playing there in the Ryman Premier.

I’m sure that’s part of the reason we go there to begin with – it’s a kind-of reminder to fans and players alike how a twist of fate at Staines could have made this last ten years a lot less palatable.

I don’t know how good Margate are these days, not that a pre-season friendly quite tells you much on that score, although I expect the comment “tough workout” to feature afterwards…