With league fixtures now released, the Rooks will know exactly who they face in the coming months. The current focus is very much on the present, though, and with a trip to Burgess Hill Town this Saturday followed by a midweek visit to Sheppey United, the tough tests keep coming.
“None of these games will be particularly friendly, if that makes sense. So you know, it'll be competitive, we'll be competitive,” said Vines. “As much as results are important all the way through, nobody likes to lose.
“It's all about performances at this stage, and the players getting the understanding of some of our patterns of play and some of our thought processes, so when we do start the season, we hit the ground, not just running, but running at full pelt.”
Preparations began last week with friendlies against Welling Town, Lancing and Punjab United, and with a mix of players able to get game time, it’s been a valuable experience.
“The Welling Town game, we had a real good look at some of the under-18s from last season, and incoming U18s for this season. Then the second half team was full of trialists,” Vines said.
“Then the game at Lancing was a real mixed bag between the previous year's first team squad with some new additions, and then a smattering of trialists as well. We're not making any sort of big statements at this stage in time. We've retained some really excellent players, in my opinion. We'd like to add a couple more to the mix.”
One such trialist who the club haven’t been able to keep hidden is a familiar face around the Dripping Pan, Henry Muggeridge. “It's the worst kept secret ever. He's sort of tweeting every time he scores,” said Vines. “Henry's somebody that we've liked for a long while, he's a really good technical player.
“He's eager to come in with us, we're eager to work with a fit version of Henry Muggeridge, he sort of given us those assurances that he's going to get himself into tip-top condition. Adding somebody like that to our squad is very helpful.”
While some players have left the Rooks for pastures new, Vines assured fans that news of incomings will be announced within the next couple of weeks. Some will be decided by pre-season performances, and specifically how they fit into the Rooks’ passing style.
“Our approach now in preseason is exactly the same as our approach during the season. We've got really clear player profiles and personas that we're working to. So, it all marries up for us, there's clarity in what we have and what we need.”