Epping expects to be among the mix come finals time in Northern Football League division 3 despite a number of off-season changes.

The Pingers, who were knocked out in the preliminary final last year, have lost a third of their players from their finals side.

Coach Greg Whitcroft said there were a number of different reasons for the turnover.

“We’ve probably lost eight players from the finals side last year,” he said.

“Daniel Moore has moved interstate for work and Shane Wood has retired, while Aaron Willitt has gone to play in the country.

“I was disappointed some other players couldn’t see it through.”

While several players have left, the Pingers have signed several to step into the side.

Among the signings are Lalor’s Jason Kelly, goal-kicker Sage Dicello and Reed Jepson.

Jordan Wilkins, who was part of the Pingers’ grand final side in 2016 while still playing under-16s, returns after missing last year with injury.

On top of that, Whitcroft expects some of the club’s younger talent to keep progressing.

“Bill Hughes, Jake Perry and Dallayce Taylor are all going quite well at training,” he said. “They’re getting better and better. I think we’ll be quite a young, fast side which is quite competitive.”

Whitcroft said the Pingers were also likely to field an under-17 team this year, unlike last year.

The loss of Willitt, who led the Pingers in goal-kicking last year, means the senior side will have a different forward set-up for the coming season. Whitcroft said they would look to have a more even spread up front.

“At times we were too Aaron-centric,” he said. “He’s a good player, but we went to him too often and didn’t use other forwards enough – it made us a predictable side.”

Whitcroft said the club was still talking to a number of players and hoped to announce a few more signings in coming weeks.

“It’s still a little unknown at the moment,” he said.

“We’re still looking to add another four or five players. We’re in negotiations with some good players.

“With what we have now, I think we will still challenge. If we get what we want, we’ll be in right in the mix.”

Epping will kick off its season against Reservoir on April 7.