Alex Pike, manager of Blue Square Bet South new boys Gosport Borough, is hopeful his search for new blood will….
…..come to fruition this weekend.
Pike has already spoken to four transfer targets about a move to Privett Park as he looks to bolster his squad for life in the Conference.
After their dramatic promotion from the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, Pike is close to securing his nine contracted players from last season with Aaron Cook, Nathan Ashmore, Brett Poate, Justin Bennett, Dan Wooden, Sammy Igoe, Jamie Brown, Danny Smith and Dan Woodward all set to sign on again.
But the Boro manager wants some extra experience in the ranks, with all of his transfer targets having played at the next level – or higher.
Pike, however, is keeping his cards close to his chest as he believes he is in direct competition with neighbours Havant & Waterlooville, who are chasing the same players.
Pike, though, remains optimistic he can beat Hawks boss Lee Bradbury to their signatures.
He said: “I’ve spoken to four potential new players who have all played at this level or higher.
“Two have been playing at Conference South and two at Conference Premier.
“Obviously, none of them have put pen-to-paper yet and I know there are other clubs interested in them as well.
“But I should know over the weekend whether we will get them.
“Havant & Waterlooville will be looked upon as our `rich neighbours`.
“We can’t compete with them and I don’t want to compete with them – I just want to get value for money.”
Pike believes Boro will have the smallest budget in the division next term but is keen to revamp the players’ training schedule to bridge the gap.
He said: “I’ve done my research and our budget has fallen way short but that doesn’t mean we can’t go in there and compete.
“I think our budget will be the lowest in the Conference South by some distance.
“It’s probably the biggest budget Gosport have ever had but it’s small compared to the Conference South.
“That’s not a criticism – Gosport Borough live within their means.
“We’ve seen clubs get into big financial problems and I’m not prepared to do that at Gosport.
“And it’s not an excuse – I see it as a challenge.
“I am ramping up everything – and that includes training.
“We’re competing with full-time clubs now.”
Recently-retired AFC Bournemouth striker Steve Fletcher was mentioned as a possible target but is beyond what Boro can afford.
Pike, however, is keen to add some extra quality to his existing squad.
He said: “Steve Fletcher was someone we looked at.
“It’s a shame but it has to be within the financial budget we have.
“But I’m delighted I’ve got deals in place for my nine contracted players and if we can add three or four players who are better than what I have already got, we will have a very competitive squad.
“That worked last season. I kept the majority and then added four or five into the mix.
“So I’m looking to use that same blueprint again.”