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Debenham LC manager Guy Hayes hoping his side can be in the mix in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North

Guy Hayes is expecting the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North to be a tough battle this season.

Nevertheless, the Debenham LC manager is still hoping that his side can be among those battling towards the top end of the table.

Mulbarton Wanderers, Fakenham Town, March Town United and Lakenheath were all promoted to Step 5 ahead of the 2021/22 campaign getting under way, while another of the top clubs – Ipswich Wanderers – were moved sideways into the First Division South.

Debenham manager Guy Hayes. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Debenham manager Guy Hayes. Picture: Mark Bullimore

However, with teams coming into the league from Cambridgeshire and the likes of Harleston Town returning after a couple of years in the Anglian Combination League, Hayes feels competition will be as tough as ever.

“There are a lot of unknowns with the new teams coming in and it’s hard to gauge a lot of things at this point,” he said.

“It’s nice in a way, it keeps things fresh and gives us new challenges.

“Some of the big teams are no longer in the league but I still think it’s going to be a hard division.

“You see some of the players that teams are signing and it becomes clear how tough it will be.”

Under new FA regulations, the team that finishes top this term will be automatically promoted, while the teams from second down to fifth will enter into a play-off for the right to play Step 5 football.

And Hayes is targeting a tilt at one of those four spots.

He added: “When you see some of the teams spending money, it’s always going to be difficult for us to compete.

“But we are ambitious and the players want to be fighting at the top end. There is no point us playing each week if we aren’t aiming high, and the play-offs give a lot of clubs a chance of going up.

“Hopefully we get off to a good start and we’ll see where that take us.”

Hayes has been busy in recent days in terms of recruitment, bringing in Lewis Kemp, Anton O’Donoghue, Luke Dunn and Kyron Andrews.

Further signings are expected next week, with the Hornets getting their season under way on July 31 at home to Huntington Town (3pm).

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