Barkingside manager Steven Le Sage is hoping his side can be in the mix as they look to earn promotion back into the Essex Senior League.

The 2018-19 season saw Side finish second from bottom in the ESL to be relegated and since then it’s been two incomplete seasons due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.

They are determined to climb back up but the boss knows it will be tough and is setting a target of top five in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South.

“Barkingside’s aim for this season is a top-five finish with the additional hope of securing promotion back to the ESL,” Le Sage admitted.

“I think this season in the Thurlow Nunn will be very closely fought and it will be hard to predict who will win the league and who the next four teams will be.

“Ipswich Wanderers come with a strong reputation and look like they have brought in some really good players this season. They’re a bit of an unknown to us but I fully expect them to be right up there.

“The likes of Holland, May & Baker, Halstead, Buckhurst Hill and Newbury Forest will also be pushing for promotion up to step five.

“I also think Frenford, Wivenhoe and Wormley will be sides to look out for this year. As in previous seasons we’ve seen the likes of Newham Athletic spring a surprise on teams, which goes to show you really can’t tell what’s going to happen.

"But I expect it to be very competitive season, lots of fun and exciting for anyone that comes to watch.”

Most of all the Barkingside manager is happy to see the return of competitive football after such a long lay-off and is of course hoping for a full season to be completed.

“Like most, I’m just glad that we are back playing competitive football,” he said.

Barkingside’s season is already well underway due to the Thurlow Nunn opting to start as early as Saturday, July 31 to get as many games in as they could as easy as possible.