WHISPER it quietly, but there seems to be an air of optimism around St Mary’s Field ahead of the new campaign.

Bridport may have lost a few familiar faces from their playing ranks, though with Adam and Jamie Symes returning to the fold they have gained a couple as well.

And Bees’ manager Trevor Senior is one of those people at the West Dorset club who, following a positive pre-season, believes that a top-eight finish is a realistic aim.

Bridport were only four places and seven points off eighth last time out, and with competition for places throughout the squad there could well be an improvement on that this time round.

“Overall, I would say I’m optimistic,” said Senior. “Since I’ve been here the highest we’ve been is eighth and the top eight is what we should be aiming for.

“Winning the league is a massive ask but you’ve got to aim high, though a lot of other teams will be thinking the same thing.

“We’ve got a hard start to the season with Melksham, Buckland and then Highworth in the cup, but from what I’ve seen in pre-season, I’m happy with what we’ve got.

“Mark Carter has come in as my number two and one of the things he has noticed is how much versatility we have in the squad.

“We’ve got a lot of players who can play in different positions which is great to have.”

Bridport open their Toolstation Western League Premier season with that visit of Melksham Town to St Mary’s Field on Saturday.

Going into the first game of a new campaign with issues over selection is never ideal, but the problem Senior could have is one that managers don’t mind.

“If everybody is fit come the start of the season then I have got a massive selection headache,” he added.

“I’ve got a squad of some 18 players, plus one or two others that can come in from the reserves, and they have all been doing well in pre-season.

“I can’t fault anybody at the moment and there is not one weak link in the squad.

“Trying to keep everyone happy during the season will be the key thing.

“Everyone wants to play in the first team, but it’s a long season and there are plenty of games ahead of us for people to get their chance.”

As ever, a good run in a cup competition is something Senior will also be striving for, with a few extra pennies in the club’s coffers always a welcome boost.

Bridport Reserves will again play in the Dorset Premier League, but after failing to find a new manager the club won’t be fielding a third team this season.