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Ebbsfleet United boss Steve Brown ready to welcome his players back to pre-season training at Cobdown

By Steve Tervet

Steve Brown can feel the weight of expectation as he prepares to welcome his Ebbsfleet players back to training this weekend.

Automatic promotion will be the focus for the Fleet boss over the next 10 months, having tasted defeat in last season’s Conference South play-off final.

And when Brown's reshaped squad assembles at Cobdown on Saturday morning, that’s the target they’ll all be working towards.

Ebbsfleet United manager Steve Brown Picture: Andy Payton

Brown said: "We expect to be up there, pushing. I can’t speak for (promotion rivals) Sutton or Bromley, but for the sheer fact we got to the play-off final, I know the expectation levels are for us to be right up there challenging.

"I know what pressure we’re under and the players will respond accordingly.

"I think back to my speech after the play-off final – let’s go one better, let’s not have that agony again. We know what our ambitions are.

"It hurt on the day because we wanted to achieve success but I’ve had big games in my career and you learn quickly that you can’t dwell on anything.

Ebbsfleet United defender Aiden Palmer will not play again this season Picture: Andy Payton

"You’ve got to let it go and build. You can’t change the past but you can affect the future. Your thoughts shift towards 'how can I make the side stronger?'"

Pre-season should certainly be more productive for Ebbsfleet than it was last summer, with Brown now able to coach his players three mornings a week at Cobdown.

He said: "From my perspective, it feels like we’re taking a big step forward in the development of the football club. As well as being successful on the pitch, we want to develop the club off it and this is definitely a step in the right direction."

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