PORTLAND United want to “show improvements” on last season as they prepare for their 2022/23 Wessex League Premier Division opener at home to Bournemouth Poppies this evening (7.45pm).

That is the aim of Franklyn Clarke and his co-manager Sam Poole, who will aim to build on last season’s placing of 15th.

Armed with a young, talented and hungry squad, Portland have pushed higher-league neighbours Weymouth and Dorchester close in pre-season.

Portland also drew 1-1 with Hamworthy United and beat Bridport and Balti Sports 2-0 and 3-0 before rounding off their preparations with an in-house friendly.

READ MORE: Portland United 1-2 Dorchester Town - match report

But Clarke told Echosport of his squad’s need to make good on their promise.

He said: “We want to show improvement on where we were last season.

“This group’s had a year together now so they understand each other’s games a bit more. There’s more togetherness.

“We have our own targets but we keep them in-house and just work towards them.”

Clarke also urged Portland to play their “own game” against Poppies as they seek to begin the season on a high note.

He said: “We played them (four) times last season and they’re good at what they’re good at.

“We just need to focus on us and play the game we know we can.

“It’s the first game of the season, we’ve been working on a lot of things and we’ll be looking to implement them in the game.

“Poppies are a side that can cause you problems, but so are we, so it’s certainly an interesting game.”

He added: “Any game we go in to we’ll be looking to win and get a positive result from but one game isn’t going to define the whole season.

“In terms of approach, we’re going in to win. If that happens, fantastic, but there’s plenty of games after that.

“Yes, we’re still building and we’ve had a couple of seasons together, but we just want to keep getting better.”

Portland are injury-free for their opening encounter of the season proper.

Clarke said: “We’re looking good. That was a thing last season that really affected us, the amount of injuries we had.

“I believe we would’ve finished higher if we’d have kept the squad fit (with) having as many injuries as we did.

“Fingers crossed this season that won’t be the case. We’re doing everything we can to limit the chances of that.

“When you get stronger as a squad you’re going to have that (selection) headache, but it’s good to have.

“I’d certainly rather have competition for places and players being disappointed, it raises everything – the lads who are starting and the lads coming on to prove a point.

"The overall quality has certainly improved.”