Needham Market missing John Sands and Gareth Heath for Bostik Premier opener at Burgess Hill

Needham Market striker John Sands

Needham Market striker John Sands - Credit: Archant

Needham Market head to Burgess Hill Town tomorrow, in their opening Bostik Premier Division fixture of the season, without attacking midfielder Gareth Heath and striker John Sands.

Summer signing Heath is unavailable, while Sands damaged a nerve in his foot, after falling off scaffolding in his day job. It is unclear how long he will be out.

Wilkins, who this week signed Colchester United midfielder Callum Harrison on a permanent basis – following two loan spells – is hopeful of bringing in a loan signing in time for tomorrow’s game, but has been so far left frustrated, with targets going elsewhere.

“A couple of lads had games with us in pre-season and we were quite interested in trying to sort out a deal,” said Wilkins.

“But it’s about being sensible with our money and paying what we think they are worth, and not going over that amount.

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“A couple of them (players) were good for us, but there are other clubs that are over-paying for players at the moment and we are not one of them.

“We’re a little short at the moment.”

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Needham drew 1-1 with Burgess Hill, at home, on the opening day of last season, before running out 3-0 winners in the reverse fixture.

“Our away performance at Burgess Hill was one of our best of the season,” reflected Wilkins, who has replaced Mark Morsley as manager – the latter moving into a boardroom role.

“They play on a nice pitch, in a nice location and we will go there to try and play the football we have been doing in pre-season.”

On Burgess Hill, he added: “They have a lot of players in their team that are six-foot plus and we have got to stop them at free-kicks and corners.”

Meanwhile, Wilkins, who has signed Heath, Jamie Griffiths, Harrison and Dan Morphew, is preparing for a tough season.

“Staines look like they’re pushing the boat out, Margate have brought in a number of players that used to be at Maidstone, so they will be up there, and you have Billericay, Leiston and Dulwich Hamlet and a number of other clubs throwing money about this year,” he said.

“What Billericay are doing at this level is almost unheard of, but it shows what he (owner/manager Glenn Tamplin) is trying to do.

“He wants to get promotion as quick as possible.”

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