Eynesbury Rovers chief Mark Ducket is bracing himself for his toughest season in management so far.

Rovers have established themselves as permanent fixtures in the upper reaches of the United Counties League Premier Division in recent times.

They were seventh last season when only a three-point deduction for unwittingly fielding a suspended player denied them a third successive top-six finish.

That was one of many sources of frustration for Ducket in a campaign which ended amid controversy as they refused to contest their Hinchingbrooke Cup semi-final against Yaxley – a match re-arranged by competition organisers after the Premier Division champions failed to raise a team when it was initially due to be played.

But Ducket admits it will be tough for Rovers to compete against the top sides this term following a quiet summer in which he has made only one signing – former St Ives Town defender Luke Smith.

The Eynesbury chief has also seen three players move on. Full-back Matty Miles has made a two-level leap to join neighbours St Neots Town – the team who beat Rovers in the Hunts Senior Cup final last term - while highly-rated wideman Jordan Brown has climbed one rung of the non-league ladder with Peterborough Sports.

Utility man Curtis Hartley has also moved on with Sports and another United Counties League side, Oadby, thought to be his options.

“It's going to be my hardest season yet, but I'm looking forward to it,” insisted Ducket.

“I've had to work my backside off to keep the majority of our squad together. We've got a great spirit and that will be valuable to us this season.

“This is probably the most committed group of players I've worked with and that counts for a lot in this league.

“We're going to have to roll up our sleeves and graft at times, but we also need to ensure we stick to our guns of trying to play positive passing football.

“We've tried hard to bring players in, but it just hasn't happened for one reason or another.

“We're not going to throw money around either especially as I reckon Rugby Town could be given the title now.

“Even if they don't dominate it as I expect, there are other teams who have made lots of good signings.

“We have to focus on developing our own players for the future and it is great to have a new Under 18 side up and running.

“They have attracted some very decent lads and I'll be looking to give a few of them a taste of senior football if and when the opportunity arises.

“Hopefully we can have good runs in the cups as the prize money in the FA Cup and FA Vase comes in handy, while competitions like the UCL KO Cup and the Hunts Senior Cup give us a genuine chance of silverware.”

Eynesbury kick-off their Premier Division campaign with three successive home games. They face Desborough at Hall Road this Saturday before Rothwell Corinthians visit on Tuesday.

They also entertain Harborough on August 18 following an FA Cup extra preliminary round trip to lower-level Raunds the previous Saturday.

Ducket misses the club's opening four games of the season as he completes a stadium ban dished out during last term.