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Thatcham Town and Pre-season update

Manager Steve Claridge spoke to Alec Hayter about the pre-season friendly against Thatcham Town and also about the Club's pre-season preparations:

"Tomorrow we have a very attractive game against FA Vase winners Thatcham Town, whose season also saw them promoted to the Evo-stik South and West Division. As we know, having been so close ourselves to becoming holders, winning a major non-league competition is not easy and, as I believe our visitors have retained many of last season's squad, the game should prove a good test for us and one which will be exciting for spectators.

We have had three training sessions so far, but, unfortunately because of holiday absences, and injuries, we have not been able to fully utilise them. However, in our two pre-season friendlies so far there have been signs that the squad will be very strong, and exciting to watch. As is normal during this period, some players have been, and some still are, very much on trial and decisions have still to be made, but I have released Cameron Murray and George Bennett as it appears that we are already catered for in their positions.

I'm pleased that Jake Wannell is now available once more but Kane O'Keefe and Sam Roberts are still absent. Charlie Searle and Aaron Dawson are both injured, and Darren Mullings and Brandon Mundy are suffering from minor injuries. Lewis Benson will probably have a fitness test before the Thatcham game.

Whilst the team, with the injuries that we have may not be as balanced

as I would like, I am sure tomorrow’s game is going to be really entertaining with the quality of players still available to me.

Those of you who saw the match at Winchester will realise how difficult it was to play our football on the surface provided, and of course our hosts, who are now a league below ourselves, saw the game as a chance to prove a point after our tremendous win there last season.

I was pleased with the work out, and there were also some very positive performances, and in particular the goal scored by Pablo Haysham was of the quality that we can expect from the team in this coming season. We were able to give match time to development squad players Charlie Cooper, Josh Sommerton, and Jack Stanley and all did well in what was a tough test for them.

It is early days in our preparations, but difficult games await us not only in tomorrow's game but also in Tuesday's game against AFC Bournemouth and the remaining friendlies. I hope that you will come along and see for yourself the progress being made as we near the start of a challenging season at our new level..