Horsham FC 'have a fair bit of work to do' before the start of the new season

Horsham FC ‘have a fair bit of work to do’ if they are to be at their best for the opening game of the 2022-23 Isthmian Premier campaign on August 13.

That’s the view of Hornets manager Dominic Di Paola as preparations continue in earnest for the new season.

This week’s friendlies saw Horsham thumped 5-1 at Metropolitan Police on Saturday, Shamir Fenelon netting the consolation, before going down 3-0 at Sussex rivals Worthing in the Isthmian Charity Shield on Tuesday evening.

Di Paola said: “We’ve got a fair bit of work to do. We’re a bit late to the party in terms of the Crawley friendly [scheduled for July 16] getting called off. We’ve had a few problems with players being injured, but I feel like we’re slowly getting there.

“Against Met Police we played alright in the first half. [The result was] to be expected as it was their fifth friendly and that was our second and we had five or six boys making their first starts.

“Against Worthing I thought we were okay in the first half. In the second we weren’t really there but we were putting square pegs in round holes.

“We’ve now got two-and-a-half weeks to finalise it all really. Certain players are beginning to get up to speed but we still have a few that need to get there. I just want it to come together in the next two-and-a-half weeks.”

The Hornets’ pre-season has been plagued by injury woes. Key players such as Harvey Sparks, Jack Brivio, and Fenelon, to name a few, have missed large swathes of the off-season, while Charlie Hester-Cook and new boy Harry Osborne have been ruled out indefinitely.

Action from Horsham's Isthmian Charity Shield clash with Worthing on Tuesday evening. Picture by Mike Gunn

Such is the issue with injuries and absences at the Camping World Community Stadium, this Saturday’s pre-season friendly at old friends Dorking Wanderers has been postponed due to player unavailability.

Di Paola continued: “Hester-Cook has had a setback with his broken ankle, which isn’t ideal. Harry Osborne is waiting on another scan.

“Tom Richards was back against Worthing, Lucas [Rodrigues] should be back soon, Sham [Fenelon] has got a bit of a problem with his ankle. We’re just trying to nurse everyone through pre-season and get some minutes into the boys.

“Jack Brivio has not been able to do much during the summer because of a knee injury in the second-to-last game of the season. Bobby [Price, new right-back] has missed a lot of pre-season and we’ve got Doug Tuck to come back in.

“Harvey [Sparks] is missing for the next three weeks. Danny Dudley and Harvey are both getting married towards the back end of pre-season so that sets us back a little in terms of our preparation.

“It’s been a bit of a balancing act and it’s been a bit cobbled together. But we’ve got to roll with it and keep pushing forward.”

But Horsham have been buoyed by the return of a fan favourite.

Chris Sessegnon has rejoined the club, just over two months after initially departing the Hornets.

The full-back, who made 28 appearances in all competitions for Horsham last season, featured in the Hornets’ pre-season win over Leatherhead on July 19 and the Charity Shield match at Worthing.

Di Paola said: “Officially he asked to come in and train with us. He’s a good lad and he’s well-liked among the group.

“But he has signed for us now. He is staying, which is good, because he's a good player, and he was a big part of the good things that we did last year.”

Horsham continue pre-season at home to Winchester City on Tuesday (August 2) evening, kick-off 7.45pm.