Published: 07:00, 10 August 2018
Mike Sandmann is hoping Margate’s new-look squad can go under the radar in the Bostik Premier this season.
The Blues looked destined to make the play-offs for much of last season before falling away in the final weeks to finish seventh.
Manager Steve Watt subsequently left by mutual consent and was followed out of the door by many of the experienced players he had signed.
Some including James Rogers, Frannie Collin, Liam Friend, Tom Mills and Tom Wynter remain but with a reduced budget to work with for 2018-19, Sandmann and fellow joint boss Steve Brown are putting their trust in youth.
Nine members of the club’s squad are 24 or under and Sandmann says that means it might make Margate difficult to predict at times.
He said: “We’re a lot younger this year but it’s the direction the club want to go in, to bring on young players and help them to develop.
“We’re trying to get the balance right between experience and youth and create an environment that people want to be part of.
“What you get with young players is energy, hunger and desire. They want to impress but obviously they will make mistakes.
“It might mean it’s a bit of a roller-coaster season but we’re under no pressure.
“I felt last year (when Sandmann was coach) we should have got into the play-offs with the resources we had but those same resources aren’t there this season so there’s no real pressure or expectations.
“We want to get into the play-offs, that will always be the aim, hopefully we can go under the radar a little bit.”
The Gate wrapped up their pre-season programme with a 1-1 draw against Ramsgate on Saturday – Collin getting their goal. They open the new season at home to promoted Corinthian Casuals on Saturday and then travel to Dorking on Tuesday.
One notable absentee is Alex Flisher, who missed the whole of last season due to an ACL injury and now has a bruised tibia.
The former Maidstone man sustained the injury in the pre-season friendly against Canterbury City and Sandmann fears it could be two months before he is back.