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Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders on hopes for new season

Maidstone manager Jay Saunders feels he owes it to his players to aim high this season.

Stones are targeting the National League play-offs in their second year in the division.

There are six play-off spots up for grabs - up two from the traditional four - and while there’s big competition, Saunders sees little point in settling for mid-table.

Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones

Maidstone host National South champions Maidenhead in their opening game on Saturday and visit Ebbsfleet on Tuesday (7.45pm).

Saunders said: “For me, you’ve got to start the season and be ambitious.

“Last year I said could we finish top 10 in our first season and we only just missed out on that.

“With the play-off places extended you’ve got to set the target and if I went into the changing room with the players we’ve got and said let’s just try and finish top 10 or mid-table I think they’d be disappointed.

“They’re a group who want to make play-offs so we’ll have a go.

“I’m not saying that’s doable, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but certainly that’s got to be your aim.

“We finished 14th last year - joint-11th - and you always want to improve.

“If you’re going to say top 10 then why not push it and say play-offs?”

Maidstone were short at the back after Kevin Lokko’s shock move to Stevenage but have signed Alex Finney on loan from QPR and are hopeful Magnus Okuonghae will be fit.

In attack, Jamar Loza (calf) and Johan ter Horst (shoulder) are set to be out for a few more weeks but Saunders is confident the goals will come.

He said: “This time last season, I looked at the team and wondered who was going to get me 20 goals.

“I thought possibly Alex Flisher and then after that who’s going to get 15 and there wasn’t really anyone.

“I look this year and I’d like to think Joe Pigott is capable of 20-plus goals, Delano Sam-Yorke can get double figures, Jamar can do the same if he’s fit and Johan’s a goalscorer.”

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