BURNHAM FC boss Martin Stone admits he cannot wait to lead his side out against Corby Town on August 17.

Stone steered Burnham to an historic Division One Central title last season and is confident the Buckinghamshire club will be competitive in their first crack at Southern Premier football this year.

The Blues supremo bolstered the ranks with a quintet of new players this summer, including marquee signing Dan Burnell, and has been buoyed by the unity of the squad.

"We want to stay up to start with," he told the Observer, "but our own personal ambition, everyone associated with the club, is to push on and finish as high as we can.

"I'm confident we will stay up and push for as high a league place as possible - I'm really looking forward to it.

"Most of the players had offers to go elsewhere, most for more money as well, but they've stuck together. I think that's natural with any team that wins promotion, they all stick together.

"We had a fantastic unity and team spirit that ran throughout the club last year, including the reserve team.

"We want to build on that and I think it's a big appeal for the players that have joined. I just expect it to continue rolling on really." Burnham will travel to Corby in five weeks without Nevin Saroya and Staforde Palmer who have decided to retire, while Ryan Bird could leave his hometown club for a professional deal with Portsmouth.

Lawrie Cracker, assistant manager to Stone at The Gore, said: "I think everyone here really hopes Ryan gets offered a deal.

"We're going to miss him. The side last year was set up around Ryan for the best part, and he came up trumps with 40-odd goals. We're going to miss him at defensive dead balls as well, but we will work around that and cope.

"Everyone really wants Ryan to do well and if he doesn't, we would like to welcome him back. I've got a feeling he might just do alright." Stone added: "We will have to play a tad more because we haven't got Ryan stuck up front but our shape will be the same, 4-4-2.

"I think the new signings bring a lot of pace and energy to the team. Reece York is obviously a really strong centre back which we needed off the back of Nevin's retirement.

"Everything stays the same apart from that. The new boys will come in and fight for a place the same as everybody else, no-one is guaranteed a start." Stone also moved quickly to add long-time friend and ex-Beaconsfield SYCOB manager Byron Walton to the coaching staff after Martin Lane decided on a return to Maidenhead United.

"I've known Byron since I was seven," joked Stone. "Obviously I've stayed in touch with him over the years, played against his teams and vice versa.

"He wasn't doing anything and I'm delighted to have him, and Dwain Lee who takes over the coaching. The two of them will be excellent." **PICK up a copy of the Observer, out every Friday, for all the latest sports news and action** **FOLLOW the Observer on Twitter @Observer_sports**