Chichester gear up for promotion campaign

Matt Wright (Photo: Darran Stevens)

Wright believes Chichester City are ready to step up to the Premier League (Photo: Darran Stevens)

Chichester City are stepping up their pre-season preparations to unprecedented levels as they target promotion to the Premier League.

The club, who fell just short in last season’s South West Combination (now one of the regional Division Ones under the FAW Premier League restructuring), are determined to reach the Premier League this time round – and are ready to invest more resources to ensure it happens.

Manager Matt Wright says several players have already rejected overtures from Premier League clubs, and now he is looking to attract top-class talent to Oaklands Park to strengthen the playing squad.

In an attempt to stand out from the competition, Chichester have organised a novel and comprehensive pre-season programme – featuring coaching, fitness training and assessments, skills work and beach soccer, as well as some mouth-watering friendly games.

Wright hopes the investment will pay dividends by winning over potential signings and stimulating the club’s existing squad, which includes a development team that will compete in the FAW Premier Reserves League next season.

He told Sent Her Forward: “We always aim to provide something special at Chichester in every aspect. Our pre-season sessions, along with all the elements that will fall in alongside this, will be better than any other club can offer.

Player investment

“The aim is to make our club exciting for existing players while attracting new members to our squad.”

The programme, over a month from mid-July, will also feature futsal games, small-sided sessions in 3G cages and speed and agility training, mainly at a training centre in Fishbourne, West Sussex.

With at least three events a week during that period, it comes at a price, but the club are hoping they will reap the dividends on the pitch, while the players should benefit individually as well.

Wright added: “The most important part of our club is our players, and we will continue to invest in them to ensure they continue to raise their standards.”

After coming so close to promotion last season and deriving immense belief in their ability to hack it at a higher level after defeating Brighton in the final of the Sussex Cup, Chichester are going all-out for the Premier League this time around.

Kirsty Willett, Chichester City (Photo: Darran Stevens)

The club has lost the experience of midfielder Kirsty Willett (Photo: Darran Stevens)

“Since my arrival at the club we have worked our way up through the divisions, and this is something we plan to continue,” Wright said.

“I believe we are ready to step up to the Premier League, and our plans are to put everything in place from the start to give us the best opportunity to do this.

Coach promoted

“Several clubs from higher levels have come in for some of our players, but they have refused the move as they can see that as a club we are moving forward, and they want to be part of this.”

Chichester will be without club stalwart Kirsty Willett next season after her retirement, and one or two first-team regulars could also be on the move, so there are places to fill.

Wright has also promoted assistant coach Liam Greenfield to joint-first-team manager, to work alongside him – a measure of the regard in which he holds him and a declaration of continuity at a club that prides itself on togetherness.

They are also bringing in a goalkeeping coach to work alongside coach Clive Stubbs, and specialists will be hired to take some of the fitness, strength and conditioning sessions during the pre-season events.

Chichester have lined up a series of friendlies against Portsmouth and Gillingham, from the Premier League Southern, and Fulham Foundation and Hassocks, from the London & South East Regional League, which is just below theirs in the women’s pyramid.

• First open training session is on July 15 at Fishbourne. Contact matt.wright@chichester.ac.uk for further information.

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