ANDY Whing wants Banbury United’s players to believe in themselves as they face a tougher level of opponent than ever before.

The Puritans begin their maiden season in Vanarama National League North with a trip to Curzon Ashton on Saturday.

Banbury are aiming to take the momentum from last term’s runaway Pitching In Southern League Premier Central title triumph into their first campaign at step two of non-league.

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Some would find it daunting, but Whing senses that his players are relishing the challenge.

The Puritans manager said: “The lads were on one at training on Tuesday, you could tell the excitement around them.

“I think I’m probably more nervous than they are, they really should have so much belief in their own ability.

“The way they’ve played in the past couple of weeks has been a joy to watch at times.

“They have to be aware of the physicality and stuff off the ball, I don’t want them to be shocked by the tempo at ten past three on Saturday.

“I’ve got so much belief in them and we’re really looking forward to it.”

National League North is littered with ex-Football League sides like Boston United, Darlington and Kidderminster Harriers.

And Whing is under no illusions about the task facing his side in the next nine months.

He said: “I would say it’s one of the biggest steps in football.

“Last season there wasn’t too much difference from bottom to top, but from us to the top of the league you’re looking at trebling our budget a week, which is frightening really.

“We’ve gone from everybody being part-time to teams training every day where managers and staff can look over them.

"We have to really trust our players to do the right things, even though we can put things in place for them.

"If it’s a massive step up if you take all that into consideration.”

The Puritans boss added: “We’ve just got to establish ourselves in the National League North.

“We’ve got our own private targets, but there’s no point in me shouting we’re going to win the league when we’ve got one of the lowest budgets.

“There’s some really tough teams in this league so if we can stay up then we go from there.”