AFC Portchester will be looking for the club’s younger players to help lift their FA Cup hangover when the reserve team’s season gets under way tonight (Thursday).
The club’s second string kick-off their Wyvern League Premier Division campaign at the Crest Finance Stadium, where they will be hosting AFC Stoneham (kick-off 7.45pm).
It will give Royals fans their first look this season at the young talent looking to push through into the first team squad and try and win a regular spot in first team manager Mick Catlin’s side.
The Royals’ reserve set up will be managed this season by Mark Dugan, who has previously been youth team and ladies team manager at Portchester, as well as having coaching roles at Fleetlands and Titchfield and he was a development team manager at Portsmouth.
Mark will be assisted by Glen Couchman who moved to Portchester from Fareham during the summer, and he was at Sholing prior to that.
Also part of the coaching team is Valerio Marcelli who will be assisting with both training and match day preparations.
Mark is looking forward to the season ahead and believes his players are capable of mounting a strong challenge in the Wyvern League, while also having the ability to knock on the door of the first team squad.
He said: “We are excited at the prospect of a good season and we are aiming to finish in a healthy position in the Premier Division, and who knows with luck put something in the trophy cabinet.
“More so though we are excited to have a youthful look about the team, who are capable of progression to Mick Catlin’s first team squad.”
After tonight’s season opener at home to AFC Stoneham, the reserves will then travel to Horndean next Wednesday, August 21, before appearing at home again against Fareham Town on August 29.
Mark is also pleased with the coaching staff he will have alongside him for the season ahead.
He explained: “Glen joined from Fareham this summer, and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the youth and schoolboy game, which is vital in the club’s growing youth development.
“Valerio played for the reserves last year and will this season be working to assist us both on and off the field - part of which will see him assess player strength and fitness as part of his dissertation at university.”
Mark and Glen will be keeping themselves busy throughout the football season as they will also oversee the club’s youth team set up.
Glen will assist Oliver Adnan, the newly appointed youth team manager.
Mark added: “Both Glen and myself aim to be at all youth games to ensure the players can see a clear pathway through to the reserve team and ultimately the first team.”