Horsham boss Simon Colbran plans to put his faith in youth for the rest of the season with “absolutely no chance” the club will be relegated.
Jamie Ampleford, just turned 18, was one of the few to impress on his third league start in the disheartening 4-1 defeat at Burgess Hill on Saturday.
The young forward and left winger Harry Smith, 16, are considered the brightest young Horsham prospects but Colbran has also been impressed by a number of others in the Under-18 ranks.
“I always try to get young players involved towards the end of the season so they are ready for the next year,” he said. “I watched them beat Tonbridge last Thursday and there is some real talent there.
“I’ve always believed what’s the point of paying loads of money when you have young players on your door step who can give you so much.”
With the likes of Adam Hutchings, 21, Abs Bolaji, 19, James Brockhurst, 20, Aaron Scott, 19, and Billy Joe-King, 22, involved Colbran already has a young squad.
And the likes of George Hole, Jack Surlis, Connor Cushing, Chris Maxted and Ben Collier could all feature between now and the end of the season after all have impressed recently for the U18s.
Some are in their last year of youth football, and with no reserve side will have to prove they have the promise to develop into first team players.
“I’m going to look to bring a number of them into the team to see what they’re about,” Colbran said. “It’s important because at the end of the season we’re going to have some tough decisions on those who can’t play youth football next year because we don’t have the luxury of a reserve team.”
Saturday’s derby defeat made it six league games without a win to leave Horsham 17th in the Ryman South table, just five points above second-bottom Walton Casuals.
Following the weekend assistant manager Gary Charman seemed to suggest another winless six-game run could drag the club into danger, a notion Colbran says he’s not even considering.
“No way, we are not going to get relegated, absolutely no chance,” he insisted. “I’m not even considering it, we’re too good for that.”
With the Ryman South going up by two teams to 24 from next season, only one side will be relegated, and Three Bridges are currently clear favourites for a swift County League return.
But ahead of this Saturday’s home match with Walton & Hersham Colbran admitted: “We do need to up our form. Saturday was disappointing because it looked like we hadn’t done the hard graft when we’ve been training hard twice a week. It was just a bad day at the office.”