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Manager Neil Hunter expects Lordswood to be the youngest squad in Southern Counties East

Lordswood are turning to youth for the new Southern Counties East season.

It’s an exciting prospect for manager Neil Hunter, who has retained just a handful of last year’s squad.

Lordswood manager Neil Hunter
Lordswood manager Neil Hunter

They open the season at Erith Town on July 31 and the youngsters will be given every opportunity to flourish.

Hunter has every faith they are up to the task.

He said: “It’s quite a new squad, we’ve got a lot of youth players in. These kids have got to start somewhere.

“There’s a few experienced boys but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had the youngest squad in the league.

“They’re good kids who can all play. It might take a bit of time but I’m quite excited to see them grow and take the opportunity to play men’s football.

“Other clubs in this league with big expectations can’t afford to play two or three youngsters, unless they’re absolutely exceptional.

“But I’m not in that position, so I can give them a chance and let them play with no pressure, which is what I’ll be doing.

“There’s no expectations, it’s a case of go and play and express yourselves.

“There’ll be areas where they need to learn, like decision-making, but that will come with experience.

“They’ve all been taught the right way, a lot of them are from soccer schools and academies.

“I’m not going to bamboozle them, I’ll simplify things.

“It’s a different way of managing when you have young players.

“Where before you’re disappointed if experienced players haven’t done what you’ve asked them to do, this is the other end of the spectrum where these boys want to listen and learn.

“I’ve spoken to the board, they understand the route we’re going down and are more than happy.

“Let’s go and play and see where it takes us.”

Hunter has a new assistant manager with former Lords player Imran Englefield stepping up from the reserves along with Chris Gardner, who joins the coaching staff.

The boss was big on team-bonding exercises last season and wants his new-look squad to retain that element of fun.

“If you don’t have a bit of fun before the game, it gets too serious and then the boys will feel pressure,” said Hunter.

“You’ve got to get them enjoying their football, otherwise it doesn’t work.

“We’ve got some big characters in the changing room and that always helps.”

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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