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Dover Athletic manager Andy Hessenthaler is predicting a tough time in the National League next season after losing the likes of Kevin Lokko and Inih Effiong

Andy Hessenthaler admits Dover will be one of many sides fighting hard to stay in the National League once football gets back underway, writes Joe Harbert.

The Whites, who ended up finishing 11th in the division last season after points-per-game were applied to the table's final standings, have been one of a number of sides hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler knows it will be tough next season Picture: Alan Langley
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler knows it will be tough next season Picture: Alan Langley

It means the Crabble outfit have been forced to make a number of changes to their squad ahead of the new campaign, with the likes of captain Kevin Lokko and strikers Inih Effiong and Anthony Jeffrey leaving the club this summer. Effiong has already agreed a deal with Stevenage.

Hessenthaler said: "Myself and the staff had a meeting with the chairman on Saturday, and I think it's 99% certain that we'll have to cut our cloth as a club to survive for next season really.

"The budget will obviously be reduced a considerable amount and we'll probably have to cut a morning of training and go from four mornings a week to three, but I don't think that will affect us too much anyway.

"I think the clubs that have come down from League Two will be financially better off though, this season - they'll get their parachute payments and use this opportunity to try and get promotion.

"But most clubs like us will try and survive and then in a year's time football will start to recover in the lower leagues, and for us we can go back to what we started afterwards.

"We've kept quite a few of the boys for next year, but then again unfortunately that comes with its own problems financially with what's happening.

"Of course we wanted to also keep Inih and Kevin but that wasn't possible, so at the moment until I know the complete budget I can't make a decision at least on Kevin who was released, so we're going to have to juggle the balls around quite a lot next year."

However, the former Gillingham boss believes exploiting the benefits of future loan deals could become fruitful for the team ahead of an eventual return to action.

"It's down to me to choose perhaps some younger players who have been released from EFL clubs and to see whether they're good enough for this level, which is a good test for many youngsters," the 54-year-old added.

"We're probably looking to go with 16 players next year, so the loan market could also be quite key to use well like we did last year.

"Fortunately, I've got enough contacts in the game to get us some good ones, and we've already had a few since I've been here that have come in and done a good job for us.

"But we've got to make sure we sort out what's in front of us first - there's going to be hundreds of players available at some stage and no club is really doing anything at the moment until we get some dates to start.

"If that's mid-September, we'll probably start looking in August because nobody is obviously going to sign anyone really at the present time with no income coming in."

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