*BS*ANDY HESSENTHALER warns there will be a huge leap in standard when the Whites start life in Blue Square South.
*BF*The big kick-off at Maidenhead is just eight days away and boss Hess has warned his Dover team that this season is not going to be an easy ride.
He said: “If we can make it three promotions in a row that would be fantastic and we’d be back in the Conference where we belong.
“We’ve put ourselves on the map in the last couple of years, we’re attracting better players and it’s enjoyable times at the moment.
“But the key is not to get ahead of ourselves.”
Pre-season results have been up-and-down with four defeats on the spin, as Hess experimented with a number of youngsters and trialists, followed by a 2-1 win against Wycombe Wanderers and 8-0 thrashing of Tilbury.
Now he expects his team to step up the standard in their remaining warm-up game against Cray tomorrow.
He said: “We’ve not been too concerned about results. We’re worried about performances and improving our fitness levels.
“The jump we’re about to make is a big jump but I expect us to be knocking on the door with the squad we’re developing and I’m sure the fans do too.”
*Q1*Throughout the course of pre-season, Hess has decided to take a look at his reserve and youth squads to assess the potential coming through the ranks.
He added: “It’s important that I field some of our youth players because we’re putting together an academy team this season and we want to come out and see what we’re developing.
“It also gives us chance to see if any of the players are ready to step up to the plate in the first team.”
To aid their quest for promotion, the club has bought in Adam Birchall from Barnet and Nicky Southall after his release from Gillingham last month, and Hessenthaler is happy with his new recruits.
He said: “Nicky is a massive signing for this football club.
“He is not just a good, versatile player. He is also a leader on and off the field. His knowledge of the game and experience is going to be huge for us this season.
“Birchall is a natural finisher and is different to the other two strikers we have in Frannie Collin and Shaun Welford. He is basically a pest, a nightmare for centre halves- a bit of a Paul Dickov sort of character.
“The games he’s been involved in I’ve been very impressed with. We might not have got the results we wanted but at this stage it’s just about improving fitness levels.”
With expectancy levels rising as the club moves up the league system, Hess is aware that his side will be under pressure but isn’t just looking to make up the numbers, he concluded:
“You do fear people will expect too much too soon but you have to be realistic. Although we’re don’t just want to consolidate, we want to be in amongst it. Whether that’s outright promotion, it’s going to be difficult.”