FC CLACTON manager Kieron Shelley is planning a packed pre-season programme to ensure his players are in tip-top condition for the 2017/18 campaign.

In addition to an early return for training, he is working on a busy schedule of nine or ten friendly games before the new Thurlow Nunn League season kicks-off on July 29.

Dates and opponents are still be finalised, but, all being well, Clacton’s summer opponents will include Tendring neighbours Brightlingsea Regent – last season’s Ryman League division north champions – and Harwich and Parkeston, managed by former Seasiders boss Glenn Eldridge.

“There will hopefully be nine or ten friendlies,” said Shelley.

“I’m still working on dates but we certainly hope to play both Brightlingsea and Harwich.

“We’re going to come back for training nice and early, too, because at this level it’s so important to be as fit as possible.

“If the group are organised, fit and together, it takes you a long way.

“It’s going to be a good place to be next season and I’m already buzzing.

“There are lots of exciting things going on and it’s far from doom and gloom.

“Off the pitch, there’s been lots of interest from local businesses wanting to put sponsorship boards around the ground and that obviously helps in terms of our playing budget and keeping our best players.

“There’s a chance we might have a new ground soon, if the planning proposals get the green light, and we’re giving the clubhouse and dressing rooms a bit of a revamp this summer.

“It’s a landmark year, with the club celebrating its 125th anniversary. We want to do our bit in making it a special one.”

Despite finishing second from bottom in the Thurlow Nunn League premier division last term, Shelley believes his side made progress and improved in the latter months of the season. Now he wants his squad to build on that improvement next term.

“When I came in after a dozen games we didn’t have a point on the point so to finish with 30-odd was remarkable. We did very well in our last 15 to 18 games.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported us and came to watch us.

“It means a lot and although it wasn’t the season we wanted, hopefully people could see some improvement in terms of results and performances in the last ten to 15 games.”

Anyone interesting in arranging a trial or getting involved in terms of sponsorship can contact Shelley on 07815 422294.

Clacton’s end-of-season awards evening will take place on Saturday, in the clubhouse at the Rush Green Bowl. Doors open at 7pm for an 8pm start.