IT IS time to step it up as AFC Portchester look to improve on recent seasons.
They open their Wessex League premier division campaign against Alresford Town at the Blanchard Wells Stadium tonight (7.45pm).
Saunders is hoping that the Royals have more strength in depth this season and can really challenge at the top.
He said: ‘There is no excuse this season because we have tried to make sure we have enough strength in depth.
‘This won’t be an easy start, though, because Alresford have brought in some good players.
‘They will be a difficult side to play against so we have to be on our mettle.
‘On paper we feel we have the strongest squad than for a few years at the club.’
Saunders has been highly encouraged by the form shown by new arrival Bobby Scott during pre-season.
He has found the net on a regular basis and the Royals are hoping he can maintain that form into the league games.
Joe Noakes is back fit and the significant spells he spent on the sidelines last season hit the Royals hard.
The hosts are without central midfielder Louis Edwards who has a suspension hanging over from last season.
They are also without forward Marco Giambledarini who picked up a knee injury in midweek.
The injury could keep him out for up to eight weeks though the Royals hope to get him back sooner.
AFC Portchester (from): C Scott, Noyce, Evans, Searle, Tayler, Warren, Birmingham, Moody, Hayes, Stone, Wells, Noakes, Bush, Bye, Ramsey, Morgan, Mason, Tuppen, B Scott, Kirby, Baldacchino.
Moneyfields are buoyed by their outstanding 1-0 victory over National League South Hawks and face Winchester City at Dover Road (7.45pm).
It is the Copnor club’s final friendly before starting their first-ever season in the Southern League 10 days later.
Mick Catlin is hoping to see the team take shape nicely ahead of the start of the league campaign.
It will be a match they will be keen to win and treat with a formula like they would for a league outing.
Hopefully they can continue from where they were when they took on the Hawks and beat them.
‘Because it is our final friendly we will be looking to treat it the same as our first league game,’ said coach Mick Catlin.
Gosport Borough have added two more friendly games before the start of their league season.
Tomorrow night Borough host Salisbury at Privett Park (7.45pm).
On Friday night Borough complete their preparations at Hayes & Yeading (8pm).