Boston United boss Jason Lee hails strength in depth ahead of season opener
JASON LEE believes Boston United's concoction of youthful exuberance and strength in depth can propel his side into promotion contention this season.
The Pilgrims begin their Blue Square Bet North campaign with a tricky trip to Droylsden on Saturday in high spirits after a promising pre-season campaign and some astute-looking summer signings.
The pressure is on manager Lee to improve on last season's 11th-placed finish and mount a challenge for the play-offs at least.
But with a settled squad and competition for places high, Lee feels he is better equipped to deliver than this time last year.
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With players coming and going, Lee and former joint-manager Lee Canoville took time to field a settled team 12 months ago, and an inconsistent season was the result.
"You live and learn. We have a squad of 21 at the moment which we never had last year," said Lee, whose side lost their final pre-season game 2-0 at Chelmsford City last Saturday.
"We have more options this season and more strength in depth.
"Some of the young players may or may not be quite ready, but they're not far off. With experience, they can come in and do a job.
"They've been given an opportunity in pre-season and have coped with it well. The signs are good.
"It's important to have a squad in place at the start of the season. Last season we didn't really have our squad in place and as strong as it could have been.
"We were still tinkering and had a few problems with the right-back position at the beginning of the season.
"We have more than covered that this season. Young Lewis Sturman has done well, we have Conor Marshall and we've brought in Gary Silk.
"We have four centre-backs. We have wide men in abundance and we have three or four people who can play through the middle (up front).
"We have Matt Wilson, who is the physical presence we were looking for.
"The squad has more versatility and if we have some injuries, I think we'll be able to cope with it."
Lee is reluctant to set specific targets about the season ahead, but said: "We want to do as well as we can. Boston should always be aiming to get out of the league. We'll be aiming for that.
"We have some tough competition, but with hard work and youthful exuberance, you can go a long way.
"We have a lot of young players who want to do well and make a name for themselves."
Saturday's trip to Droylsden's Butchers Arms home is followed by consecutive home games against Histon on Tuesday (7.45pm) and Hinckley the following Saturday.
That represents a favourable start for Lee's men, but the United boss is refusing to be complacent.
"Some people may look at it and say it's an easy start," he said.
"But as far as I'm concerned, it's going to be a difficult start.
"All these teams have been working to get their squads up to scratch.
"Everybody will go into the season in positive mood so there won't be any lack of confidence.
"It's not going to be an easy start, but it's a start we're aiming to get some wins from."
Centre-back Tom Ward is a major doubt United's opening games after suffering an ankle injury during pre-season.
That means Nathan Stainfield and summer signing Kern Miller could pair up in the heart of defence.
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