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Maidstone United manager George Elokobi won’t disrespect National League South opponents with rash promotion predictions

Maidstone manager George Elokobi won’t be making rash promotion statements - out of respect for the other sides in National League South.

United, along with fellow relegated clubs Torquay and Yeovil, are among the favourites to go back up.

Maidstone United defender Gavin Hoyte will captain the side this season. Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United defender Gavin Hoyte will captain the side this season. Picture: Steve Terrell

Elokobi knows what he wants as he begins his first full season in charge at the Gallagher Stadium.

“My expectations are a squad that’s going to be competitive,” he said. “It’s a long season and we want to be competitive in every single game we go into.

“At the moment, my expectation is there is a squad here that can compete and compete well.

“As a manager, you’re not scared of being beaten by your statements, it’s not that. First, we have to show respect to all the teams in the National League South.

“Every game is going to pose a different challenge and we have to be competitive in the first place to earn the right to have a foothold in any game.

“We’ve seen in pre-season if you’re not competitive, you get beat.

“My ultimate goal is to work with the team leading into each game, showing respect in our detail and how we prepare. I always talk about the effectiveness of the performance and if we get that right, the result will take care of itself.”

Building works at the Gallagher mean Maidstone will play the next four games away. They visit Bath, Braintree, Yeovil and Hemel before ending August at home to Taunton.

Elokobi has no problem with that.

He said: “There are no concerns. The football pitch doesn’t change. The goals don’t change. You’re coming up against 11 players and that’s what we need to think about, whether we are playing home or away.

“We have some travelling to do but it’s not a problem.”

Fit-again right-back Gavin Hoyte will captain the Stones this season. Both George Fowler and Sam Bone took the armband during Hoyte’s absence with a dislocated shoulder last term.

Elokobi considered his options before sticking with Hoyte, who is starting his fifth year at the Gallagher. He’s the joint longest-serving player alongside Sam Corne, who has been named vice-captain.

“Every player at this football club was a contender for the captaincy in terms of their leadership qualities,” said Elokobi.

“Gavin Hoyte has been a great servant here. He was my vice-captain when I was still playing and he led the boys when I was out injured. He’s a senior player that everyone looks up to and respects.

“One of the main reasons he’s here is because of the qualities he brings on and off the pitch. He’s a calm leader but on the pitch he’s a warrior.

“We looked at it and thought Gavin was the right person to carry on leading this football club, assisted by Sam Corne, and all the other leaders as well.

“If Gavin’s not there, Sam Corne leads, and if Sam’s not there, someone else does it.

“All the players have leadership qualities but we’re delighted to have Gavin as captain of this football club. He’s an important player and I could sense he was hurting at not being able to help the team on the pitch when he was out injured last season.

“It’s a true testament of his leadership qualities, however, that he never shied away from anything. He was in the changing room trying to ensure the players were doing their best in terms of how difficult we found it and he was by their side to pick them up as well.

“I’m glad he’s gone away and followed the fitness programme we gave him. When I look at him, he’s as fit as he’s been for a while.

“He’s come back really fit and strong, so it’s good to see him healthy and enjoying his football again.”

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