New Leith Athletic bosses will be given time to rebuild

Only four members of the first-team squad which  won the King Cup last season have decided to stay
Only four members of the first-team squad which won the King Cup last season have decided to stay
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New Leith Athletic joint-manager Leighton Jones has revealed he has been tasked with rebuilding a team capable of challenging for the East of Scotland League title within the next “two to three years”.

New Leith Athletic joint-manager Leighton Jones has revealed he has been tasked with rebuilding a team that is capable of challenging for the East of Scotland League title within the next “two to three years”.

Jones has been appointed alongside Steve Chalmers following Derek Riddel’s decision to quit the club last month after a nine-year stint.

The management team, who have been promoted from the club’s under-21 side, have only been able to persuade four first-team players from last season to stay on under the new regime.

The Meadowbank side were crowned league champions in 2016 but narrowly missed out on the title to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale last month. And now Jones insists there will be a new mindset when the season kicks off on Saturday, July 29.

“The nucleus of Derek’s squad were ready to move on but they’re moving on for the right reasons and they go with our best wishes,” he said. “But we have players from the under-21s who are ready to step up so it’s very much going to be a new-look team.

“Everybody was out to beat us in the under-21s so the guys will now very much be the underdogs this time around which gives us a wee bit of breathing space. The committee expects us to build a team that is capable of challenging for the league title within the next two to three years. They are keen to see the young guys at Leith given first-team opportunities.”

Chalmers, meanwhile, is looking forward to the inclusion of Junior Super League champions Kelty Hearts.

“With Kelty coming in it throws a bit of a curveball,” Chalmers said. “It’s certainly going to make the league a lot more interesting. There’s no pressure on us and we are realistic in that we’re going to have to find our feet again. But we want to continue the good work done by Derek.”

Mervyn Jones, Leighton’s father, and Steve McNally, have also joined the club’s first-team coaching set-up.