Ilfracombe ready for testing pre-season after eight new signings

Ilfracombe Town have had a busy summer in their quest to move the club forward both on and off the field.

Joint Chairman Matthew Hayne has been working tirelessly on new plans for both the changing rooms and club house and taken huge strides forward in the last week.

Mark Yeo of M.R. Yeo & Sons Ltd Tarmacadam & Haulier has agreed to sponsor the Bluebirds for another season, which will help provide new away shirts and new tracksuits for the first team squad.

On the field although the Toolstation Western League Premier club have lost three players manager Ross Middleton has made eight new signings in the past couple of weeks as he looks to build on last year's debut season in charge.

"We've lost three, one was a surprise and not dealt with in a way I'd expect but the other two were expected," said Middleton.

"I don't think it will have any effect on the squad, we already have the players in to cover the positions and they've been training well for the past couple of weeks.

"When players leave or get injured it gives someone else the chance to step up and grab the opportunity so it'll be exciting to see who does that over the next couple weeks."

The new players who have joined so far this summer are versatile Luke Evans, midfielders Liam Craze and Jamie Bright, defenders Ian Cockwell and Lewis Ovey, 'keeper Kurtis Parkin, and strikers Frank Paxton and Mark Gillfillan.

"The new lads have knuckled down very quickly and all have different qualities that should help the squad.

"All the other lads who played last year have re-signed for the club which is brilliant because it looks to be a great mix of youth and experience.

"We've done a couple of tough training sessions and there's been a few challenges flying in as players look to make their mark.

Combe face their first pre-season fixture this Saturday, when they host Bovey Tracey at 3pm, before two tough away trips to Crediton on Monday (15th) and Elmore on Wednesday (17th).

"I can't wait to get the pre season games started on Saturday, then it's up to the players to show what they can do and cement their place in the squad."

On the subject of tough away trips, Combe kick off their Western League Premier campaign at one of this year's title favourites Bristol Manor Farm on August 10. The Bluebirds then welcome Buckland Athletic on the 13th before travelling to AFC St Austell on the 17th in the Extra Preliminary round of the FA Cup.

"You couldn't ask for a more exciting start to the season, we've got the chance to beat two of the title favourites this season as well as progressing in the FA Cup all with in the first week," added Middleton.

"That's a great challenge for the squad and gives them something to focus on early doors. Everything we do now builds up to those games, we'll certainly have to hit the ground running that's for sure."