SIL Senior Division newcomers Ipswich Exiles set sights on mid-table finish

IPSWICH Exiles manager Lee Steward is setting his sights on a mid-table finish in the club’s first season in the Senior Division of the Touchline Sports SIL.

Exiles won promotion to the top flight for the first time in the club’s history on the final day of last season.

Since then Steward has lost assistant manager Sean Brown, who is going travelling, as well as five members of his first-team squad.

He has appointed Chris Rogers, who will continue to play, as his assistant and signed John Johnson and Liam Stewart, two young lads who were playing in a similar standard to the SIL in Greece.

He said: “I think players who have got us where we are deserve the chance to play Senior football, so players who were on the bench last year will get their opportunity. We are not in a position to offer money like some SIL clubs.”

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Steward, who has been manager for eight years, continued: “It has been hard work to get to where we have in the last eight years. We were in Division Two and then got promoted to Division One and eventually we won promotion last season, so it has been a long, hard road.

“Our team spirit was vital in winning promotion – we have not got any superstars, and the side did themselves proud.

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“We are looking forward to the new season. We have trained hard twice a week including martial arts and boxing sessions in the gym.

“Physically we are there, but mentally we have got to get our heads round the fact we have stepped up into Senior football – we don’t want to be overwhelmed.

“We have got players who have played in the Senior Division before and also in the Ridgeons (Eastern Counties) League – I think you need a mixture of youth and experience to succeed in the Senior Division.

“Our first aim is to stay up, but if we can finish in mid-table that will do me – that will be a great achievement.”

Exiles entertain Melton St Audry’s at Rushmere Sports Centre in their first match tomorrow, and Steward said: “I think they have had a clear-out in the summer so it will be interesting to see what sort of squad they have got this season.”

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