Reds plan ahead for upcoming challenges in new division

BALLARAT Red Devils have been forced to refocus their recruiting approach after news they will play in the state’s premier soccer league in 2014.

Red Devils chairman Duncan Smith said the club was well aware of the challenges that lay ahead after they were confirmed as one of 14 clubs in the Victorian National Premier Leagues’ top division earlier this week.

Smith said the Reds were in talks with both domestic and overseas players to add to the on-field talent, which has been headlined by the signing of A-League championship winner James Robinson as player-manager.

“We were always confident of being in the NPL, without being over confident, but never too sure of what league we were going to be in. Now it’s done and dusted, we can’t go into a season sitting back and hoping things work out,” Smith said.

“This will be the best league in Australia outside the A-League and we will do everything in our powers to make sure we have a competitive team week in, week out.”

The Reds will take on Bentleigh Greens, Dandenong Thunder, Goulburn Valley Suns, Green Gully Cavaliers, Heidelberg United, Hume City, Melbourne Knights, Northcote City, Oakleigh Cannons, Pascoe Vale, Port Melbourne Sharks, South Melbourne and Werribee City in the inaugural NPL season, which kicks off in mid-March.

Another 16 teams will make up the NPL1 division, which will sit a tier below the top flight. Meanwhile, the Reds are anticipating a less hands-on approach from football director Danny Milosevic, who has been announced as the new national women’s goalkeeping coach.

Smith admitted Milosevic will have less time to spend in Ballarat as part of his new role, but insisted the club was happy with the current arrangement.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity that we wholly endorse and embrace. It’s a great thing for Danny moving forward,” he said.

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