Ambitious Melton Town begin their pre-season fixtures tomorrow with a few familiar faces among a lengthy list of new signings.
Town host Evo-Stik League Premier side Grantham Town in a friendly at Digital Deadline Park on Friday (ko 7.30pm) after a busy close season of squad strengthening.
The new management team of Tom Manship and Jon Stevenson have lured a string of higher league players to the town in their bid to propel Melton up the non-league ladder from United Counties League Division One.
Yet despite all the activity and calibre of the recruits, Manship insists there is still squad places available for young local talent.
“I have got the experience in, and now we are looking for younger players who we want to help develop; it’s a really good opportunity.
“If we can blend them together we should have a good team for this level.
“We are not saying we are going to thrash everyone and win the league; we just want to put Melton on the footballing map - for too long there hasn’t really been anything to talk about.”
Among them are the Fray brothers, Levi and Leon, who returned to the club last week from UCL Premier side Kirby Muxloe.
The brothers, who started their senior career at Holwell, both play at full-back, while Leon can also play at centre-back.
Long-time Town striker Ash Palfreyman returns after a season away, while goalkeeper Rob Peet will finally play for his home town club.
The keeper signed a professional contract with Hull City as a 19-year-old in 2012, having had a trial at Manchester United while with Grimsby Town’s academy side.
Peet, now a teacher at Birch Wood, joins Town after spells with Lincoln United and Gresley.
Last week the club also raided Kirby for captain Sam Wilson, a centre-back who also has Hinckley United on his CV.
But the main business was done early in June when former Leicester City and Corby Town skipper Edi Appleton signed, along with former Shepshed and Hinckley midfielder Josh Hill, former Leicester City winger and playmaker Levi Porter, and prolific goalscorer Michael Reeve from Shepshed.
The co-managers will also be supported by Lee Miveld, formerly of Grantham Town and Coalville, who comes in as assistant player/manager.
Another big coup was acquiring the coaching services of former Lincoln City player Nathan Arnold who will take Wednesday evening sessions at Brooksby Melton College.
Arnold was part of Lincoln’s thrilling run to the FA Cup quarter-finals and recently began life in management as assistant at Boston United.
The commercial side of the club has also undergone an overhaul with a clutch of new sponsors on board, including main backers Oakham-based family wealth management firm Smith Eliot.
“A few people are talking about money, but all the money has come through sponsorship,” added Manship.
“The players are coming in for travel (expenses) and to play for me and Stevo.
“It hasn’t taken a lot of persuading; they know things are going to be done right here.”