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Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb predicts tougher National South this season

Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb believes National South will be even stronger this season.

Champions Maidstone and play-off winners Dorking are out of the way but that doesn't make things any easier.

Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb Picture: Keith Gillard
Ebbsfleet United manager Dennis Kutrieb Picture: Keith Gillard

Dover and Weymouth have come down from the National League, with Farnborough and Taunton promoted.

It’s a competitive division and that’s why you won’t find Kutrieb making any rash predictions.

“Already, I see so many teams in this league who have said, ‘We want to get promoted, we want to go to the National League’,” said Kutrieb.

“I don’t want to say the same things.

"We just want to work hard and start the season right, with the right approach and try to make sure we win our games and then the rest will come and take care of itself.

“Honestly, I think it’s definitely a stronger league this year because you have the relegated teams who came down, and you have promoted teams with good quality, good signings in the summer and they have momentum, so they will be ready to challenge.

“Even the teams who were already in there, like Dartford, Welling, who are now full-time, and Tonbridge, with many new signings, you can see so many teams who want to take the next step.

“I think the season will be tougher for us but we will see in a few months."

Ebbsfleet beat Chippenham 1-0 in last season's play-off semi-finals and they meet again at Stonebridge Road in the season opener on Saturday.

Kutrieb said: “It’s going to be a tough start for us, not just for the first game, but second game away to Weymouth, relegated from the National League, they have a point to prove, then Eastbourne, who were in the play-offs.

“After that we’ve got Farnborough, who got promoted with a few very, very good players, and also Dover in the first six games.

“From this point of view we just need to be ready and that’s how we try to prepare the boys in pre-season, so everyone is aware it’s a tough start for us, but we’re ready to go and we can’t wait.”

Midfielder Jack Paxman is the only injury doubt but is set to train this week.

"He might be ready for Saturday," said Kutrieb. "Obviously we need to make a decision because always we are looking at the bigger picture and we don’t need to push a player for one game."

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