Sykes targeting the play-offs after sealing deals with his four award winners
ALEX Sykes is targeting a play-off push for Bishop's Cleeve after tying down the spine of his side to new deals ahead of the new season.
The Villagers recorded a record position and points double in the Southern League last term and Sykes hopes to push for the top five in the forthcoming season.
His bid to do so has been boosted by the news that his goalkeeper and key defenders, midfielders and forwards have all agreed new deals.
Ghanaian goalkeeper Jimmy Nortei, long-serving defender Sam Avery and top-scorer Carl Brown have all put pen to paper, while club captain Michael Jackson has verbally agreed new terms.
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"We've tied down the spine of the side to new deals ahead of the new season which is really pleasing," Sykes said.
"Jimmy Nortei was named as supporter's player of the year, Sam Avery was the player's player of the year, Carl Brown was our top scorer and Mike Jackson was manager's player of the year.
"To have them all tied down for another season is great. My primary concern was to get that spine sorted ahead of the new season.
"We obviously want to build our squad on from last season, we don't want to rest on our laurels, so to get the core of that side sorted is a great start."
Sykes said that further discussions will take place with the remainder of his squad and potential new signings, ahead what promises to be a highly competitive league.
With Cirencester Town, Evesham United and Swindon Supermarine all relegated from the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division and Shortwood United promoted from the Hellenic Leauge, Division One South and West takes on an especially local feel.
However, Sykes is confident that with improvements to the squad that the Villagers can push towards the top five and take a play-off place.
"I'm also very close to agreeing new terms with five or six others which is also good news and I've also been speaking to a couple of possible recruits as well," he said.
"I'm in advance discussions with a few players as well a couple with experience from leagues above what we're playing in now.
"It's going to be a really tough league with as many as ten local derbies and that will make it really competitive.
"It will reduce the pool of players that are available in the area so it's going to be tough to fight it out to get these players in.
"Therefore it's important to get your best players tied down and as I've got the basis of what I had last season I'm reasonably confident.
"And then if I can get the three or four targets that I have in mind, I believe we can certainly push fort the play-offs."
The one player who won't be returning to Kayte Lane next season is combative midfielder Lee Smith, who has moved back to the Midlands after completing his studies at the University of Gloucestershire.