EASTLEIGH boss Richard Hill is due to meet the players today regarding the retained list for next season.
The process is complicated this year by the fact that four different team bosses have had spells in charge and Hill has inherited contract players he would not ordinarily have kept.
But chairman Stewart Donald has made it clear that “it will make no difference to our recruitment strategy” as the ambitious Stoneham Lane club set their sights on a push for the Football League.
He estimates that “possibly 11, maybe 12” new faces will come into the Silverlake during the summer as the Spitfires seek to rebuild under Hill and new assistant Andy Hessenthaler.
With regard to the current squad, which finished a disappointing 15th in the Vanarama National League, Donald stressed that even if players are under contract there is no cast-iron guarantee that they will feature next term.
Eastleigh have had an extraordinary 54 players signed on during the course of this campaign, many of whom have disappeared through the Silverlake exit door along with bosses Chris Todd, Ronnie Moore and Martin Allen.
When Hill returned to the club as director of football/caretaker boss in February, he inherited a mishmash squad comprising other people’s signings and Donald openly admits: “The team that’s finished the season is not strong enough to achieve our ambitions.
"We were in serious trouble and that was predominantly due to the players that were here.
“Richard’s got players on contract potentially signed by three different managers who were all looking for different things.
“We’ve got a few players on contact, which will give us a starting point of about 11, but those players may or may not end up featuring.
“We will meet our financial commitments to them, but it isn’t a given that they will play.
“One or two will be told that, although they’re on contract, they can look for other clubs.”
Three of Eastleigh’s bigger-named players – ex-Football League trio Ryan Cresswell, Jason Taylor and Reda Johnson – have missed significant chunks of the season injured.
Donald said: “They’re all strong players and we’ll assess their injuries and whether we will get 30-40 games from them next season.”
Reflecting on the 2016/17 campaign, the chairman summed up: "It's been an emotional season with lots of ups and downs - and an expensive one too. We haven't achieved what we wanted to on the pitch but I think the club and myself will learn from it and be stronger for it in the long run."
Donald's big triumph of the season is the completion of the impressive £2 million clubhouse complex. The state-of-the-art, two-storey venue, incorporating a 120-seater restaurant, will be officially opened at a champagne reception this evening.