06:00PM, Friday 02 August 2019
Slough Town’s preparations for the new season have been far from ideal, but joint manager Neil Baker says the Rebels will be giving everything to make improvements on last season.
A wonderful run in the latter weeks of the season saw the Rebels finish just outside the play-offs – and they were still very much in the mix on the final day of the campaign. But if their form during that spell was near on perfect,
preparations for the 2019/20 National League campaign have been anything but.
Slough kick things off at home to newly promoted Dorking Wanderers tomorrow (Saturday) before travelling to Hungerford Town on Tuesday, but they’ll take their first steps into the new season without a string of first team players – including three of their most regular back four from last season.
One of those, Mark Nisbet, has been diagnosed with a heart condition and will undergo a procedure to try and correct the irregular rhythm in a few weeks’ time.
Another of last season’s stand-out players, Josh Jackman, is struggling with an abductor issue, while George Wells is set to miss the first few games of the season.
New signings Max Worsfold and Ryan Bird aren’t quite where they’d like to be in terms of fitness, said Baker, and pre-season results have also been mixed, with the club losing its first three matches before recovering with wins over Hayes & Yeading (2-0) and Hartley Wintney (2-1).
“I wouldn’t say we’ve had a brilliant pre-season,” said Baker. “It’s been challenging and we’ve been a bit disjointed in terms of injuries. We’ll be heading into the new season without five first-team regulars, which is not ideal.
“Mark (Nisbet) has an irregular heart rhythm. He wasn’t feeling well after training so he went to the doctors to get it checked out. He’s going back into hospital in a few weeks to hopefully have it zapped back to a regular pattern.
“It’s far from ideal and we’re going into the season without three of our most regular back four from last season.
“Our best performer in pre-season has probably been Dan Roberts but he’s suspended for the first game and Joe Grant, who we’ve got from Bracknell, has turned his ankle and will also be out for a few weeks.
“But we’ve still got a good squad and we’ll look to be competitive.”
Baker is also wary of tomorrow’s opponents Dorking, who he says are well back financially and will be looking to compete rather than consolidate after gaining promotion.
“I expect Dorking will be up there,” he said.
“They’re well back financially and have experienced players. They won their last 12/13 games to win their league at a canter last season.
“Hungerford will also be young and hungry and it won’t be an easy game – no game at Bulpit Lane ever is.”
Baker added: “There are so many sides I could see making the play-offs, and we don’t have a divine right to get there because of what we achieved last season.
“But we’ll give it a good go and look to make improvements on last year. We finished three points outside the play-offs last year so why not?
“We’ll be ready for the start of the season.
“It does take a little while for things to settle down and the league won’t be won or lost in the first few games.
“August is a busy month and we’ll just look to pick up as many points as we can.”
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