MANAGER Paul Collicutt admits it will be “difficult” for Evesham United to achieve their ambition of promotion from Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South this season.

After a seven-week long pre-season Evesham kick off their 2018-19 campaign with a trip to newcomers Melksham Town on Saturday (3pm).

Robins have finished in the play-offs in three of the past four seasons and Collicutt said he hoped to be in the mix again.

But he felt Melksham, who rose from the Western League Premier Division, were among many clubs with the ability to challenge for promotion.

“The goal is to get promoted,” Collicutt said. “But you have got another 20 teams that are trying to do exactly the same so it is going to be difficult.

“Melksham are one of the favourites to finish in the top five.

“They are a very well-run club, have got a good budget, a good manager and have signed some players who have played at a higher level so they will be a strong side.”

Collicutt also identified Thatcham Town, Bristol Manor Farm. Blackfield and Langley and Street as potential contenders for promotion.

“You can only guess at this stage,” Collicutt said.

“But you need that bit of luck and that is something we will need like every other club.

“But we have got a good bunch of lads, some new signings and we are certainly looking forward to the start of the season.”

He said it had been the longest pre-season he could recall and only time would tell whether it had benefited his team.

“We started training at the end of June so you are talking six or seven weeks which is crazy,” Collicutt said.

“We have had players away on holiday during that time so it has been very difficult to have any continuity.

“People may say ‘Why did you start so early?’ But when you have got the likes of Hereford, Cheltenham Town and Solihull Moors approaching you for a friendly it is difficult to turn them down.”

The Robins’ first home game is against Mangotsfield United on Wednesday (7.45pm).