Matt Easton has spoken of the importance of United Services making a good start to their Hampshire League campaign.
The new skipper will lead his team into battle against Bournemouth II at Burnaby Road tomorrow (1pm).
Services were relegated from the Southern Electric Premier League last summer.
The demise of their colts set-up meant they could no longer meet the accreditation standards of the higher league and were forced to surrender their position.
Easton now has the job of trying to rebuild the side after the departure of a number of key figures during the winter.
He knows it won’t be an easy job but feels the time is right for new blood to come in and revitalise the team.
‘Last season was a difficult one for the club,’ said Easton.
‘Unfortunately, when we were forced to disband the colts section it sealed our fate.
‘Now we have to consolidate our position in Hampshire League division one.
‘A number of our key older players have left the club after being here for many years.
‘They will obviously be big misses but it is the perfect time to introduce new blood.
‘I am hoping for a good, solid season and at the end we should be in a better position to assess where we are.
‘It is a big challenge for me but I am looking forward to it.’
The Burnaby Road club has been hit hard by a number of departures.
Previous captain – and wicketkeeper – Lee Carroll has joined Hambledon, brothers Damian and Dominic Carson have gone to Petersfield and David Cox has also left.
Their experience and quality will be missed but a number of other senior players have stayed.
They will have a big part to play if Services are to arrest the slide.
Mark Toogood, Fraser Quirke and Gary Hounsome will be key figures in supporting Easton, now in his fifth season with the club.
Twenty-year old University of Surrey student Tom May will be given the responsibility of opening the batting.
He showed a lot of promise in his first season with the club.
May will also contribute to the bowling attack, alongside Quirke, Easton and 17-year-old Josh Collingham.
‘It will be important to try to get off to a good start,’ said Easton.
‘If you start off winning it can become a habit and helps create some early confidence.
‘We know this is a competitive league and we will have to work hard to get results.
‘It isn’t so much a drop in standard but more of a shift in intensity.
‘There are some big derbies we can look forward to.
‘Our facilities are terrific and hopefully we can make the most of them.’