Plenty of people are writing off Eastleigh for a National League top-seven charge this season following the departure millionaire owner Stewart Donald to Sunderland – but team boss Andy Hessenthaler isn’t one of them, say The Daily Echo.

Even before Donald left the building, the realisation had dawned that throwing money at promotion was no guarantee of success, with the Spitfires massively underachieving in 15th and 14th over the last two seasons.

The purse strings will be tighter this time round with ex-Gillingham manager Hessenthaler working with a smaller pool of players, but he still feels there is more than enough talent in the ranks to improve on last term’s mediocre showing.

Former Saints midfielder Oscar Gobern heads a quartet of summer signings, joined by defenders Josh Hare and Alex Wynter, both from Maidstone United, and midfielder Joey Jones from Woking. They have also taken 19-year-old midfielder George Dowling on loan from Bristol City until January.

The Spitfires kick off the new campaign at home to ex-Saint Tim Flowers’ Solihull Moors on Saturday (3pm) and, asked his thoughts on a big nine months ahead, Hessenthaler said: “Realistically we’ve got to improve on last year.

“We’ve got 17 outfield players and two goalkeepers, so the squad’s not massive, but we’ve still got a good group of players. The five boys we’ve added can only make us stronger and I still think our aspirations should be top seven.

“Because of the change of ownership and people leaving, there are people in the outside world who think we’ll struggle.

“But in our own dressing room, we know we’ve got a decent group here.”

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