Hoppers Crossing coach Shaun Barbara is putting on his best poker face and keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to his targets in the transfer market.
With the Reds moving up to the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1 for the first time in 2018 – the highest level in club history – they will presumably target outside help to bolster the squad.
But who those targets are, what positions they will fill and when they will arrive, only one person knows.
“There’s not anything we want to disclose as yet,” Barbara said.
“There’s lots of interest in coming to play for us, but like I did this year and like I’ll do for many years to come, I’m very selective with the personnel we bring into the club.
“We’ve had a few inquiries from guys with decent reputations, but if it doesn’t feel right, I don’t care how big the reputation is.”
Hoppers Crossing will need to find a replacement for Taira Matsumoto.
The Japanese import will return home after playing 15 games and scoring six goals last season.
The good news for Reds fans is that all required players outside of Matsumoto have re-signed.
“We’re pretty confident with the team we’ve got, to be honest,” Barbara said.
“They’ve had a good freshen up, so we’ll bring them in soon and have a chat, let them know how pre-season is going to travel, and we’ll get cracking and start working away for the new season to come.”
There is a huge buzz of excitement at Hoppers Crossing as it prepares for state league 1.
Barbara can hear the joy in the voices of the long-time members who have supported the club through thick and thin.
“As a coach, you always want to win games and you always want to succeed, but sometimes, at some places, you get that little bit extra,” he said.
“I’ve been able to feel and absorb more than just winning here – you’ve been able to see how much it means to the people at this club.
“It’s a club that is respectful to the past and
its achievements and want to continue achieving.
“We’re amongst the big boys now, but we don’t plan on taking a backward step … we’ll just hit it full force like we did this year.”