Trying to build on experience gained last season and targeting cup success are the aims for a couple of the north-east’s Highland League outfits.
Turriff United’s young squad endured some difficult defeats last term as they finished 14th.
However, Haughs manager Kris Hunter is full of optimism about the new campaign, which is scheduled to kick off on October 17.
He believes his charges will improve during the shortened campaign as a result of previous experiences.
Hunter said: “I think the team will improve because they’ve got another year of experience under their belts.
“I’m really impressed with the squad and how hard they’ve worked during lockdown, they’ve come back and look in good shape.
“It’s just a continuous building process because any new players we take in will again be young and it will be their first year in the Highland League so it will take time to adjust.
“We want to improve every season in the league and hopefully we can have a cup run as well.
“But if we keep these young players together we will move up the league. They are a talented bunch, but ultimately it will come down to them to have that belief that they’re good enough to do it.
“We’ll keep encouraging them, but every year we just need to keep doing a bit better and trying to challenge in cups as well.”
Keith enjoyed another season of progression last term, finishing 10th when the standings were finalised on a points-per-game basis.
Maroons manager Dean Donaldson is a realist and says that, despite the shortened league structure potentially making the division more open, he doesn’t feel his side are likely to challenge for the title.
The Kynoch Park gaffer is hoping to improve once again in the league and is pleased the Highland League, Aberdeenshire Cup and Aberdeenshire Shield all remain in the calendar, giving him some hope of cup success.
He said: “I think it’s probably the best case scenario. For me it will be more about the cup competitions and trying to progress in them.
“And we’re still getting to play all of them so I’m very happy with the structure.
“The cups are very important to us because in the last five years or so we’ve usually been finishing 10th or below.
“So realistically, unless we do a Leicester or something, we’re looking at cups for success.
“My aim at the moment is to build the squad and try to get a good run in cups and all the cups being played is the best case for Keith.”