FC CLACTON head coach Ryan Salter insists his players will be drilled, prepared and confident of causing an upset when they launch their Thurlow Nunn League campaign against much-fancied Stowmarket Town.

The Seasiders could barely face a tougher task against many people's tip for the premier division title.

Salter knows it represents a challenging start but has faith in his players to produce an early statement of intent.

"Given what we've done in pre-season, the boys will be 100 per cent at it on Saturday," said the former Brightlingsea Regent coach.

"I know that for a fact.

"Stowmarket will be strong and they've got to be favourites but playing them so early in the season might be a positive for us.

"If they'd put four or five wins together before coming here, it would be even tougher.

"We'll drill and prepare the boys as best we can.

"We've lost a couple but also made some good signings during the summer, so we feel we've got a strong squad.

"It's going to be a busy start with so many games in the first month and the squad will be tested, for sure.

"But it's a group that can undoubtedly come through that period.

"We hope to get as many points as possible and into the habit of winning.

"If that happens from the start, who knows what might happen?"

Saturday's match is a 3pm kick-off at the Rush Green Bowl and will be swiftly followed by a trip to Whitton United on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

Tom Austin's Seasiders will be hoping to carry on where they left off last term, having finished a best-ever sixth in the premier division.

Salter knows that success brings great expectations but says he and the players are ready to embrace the challenge.

"It's a benchmark that's been set and a level we now want to go beyond," he said.

"The club is growing and becoming stronger behind the scenes and we want to reflect that on the pitch.

"From a personal point of view, I've loved every minute since joining in May.

"I was itching to get back into football because I love it so much.

"You can't replicate that feeling of winning and being in the changing room and the boys have been great; really welcoming.

"I bring experience and have been successful at a higher level, so there's a mutual respect between myself and the players.

"They've responded well."

Salter believes a strong work ethic will be a key ingredient to any success the team enjoy this season.

"One of the things I always try to bring to my teams is workrate - working hard to win the ball back as quickly as possible to then trying to do something with it going forward," he said.

"I haven't had to instil that in this group because that mentality was there.

"It's an honest squad and they will work hard.

"They beat themselves up sometimes when things aren't going well but I'm quite a calm head and try and get them through that.

"It's a young squad and there's lots to learn but hopefully we'll do well."

Saturday's wet weather forced Clacton to cancel their scheduled home friendly against Romford.

However, they played their final warm-up fixture at home to Colne Athletic on Tuesday, drawing 1-1.