THE talking will stop and the gloves will come off this Saturday at 3pm as the borough’s West Midlands Premier sides kick-off one of the most hotly-anticipated seasons in years.

Much is expected after big changes at Dudley Town, Gornal Athletic, Lye Town and Cradley Town, while Tividale are hoping their young side will continue to improve.

Dudley Sports have also revamped their playing side in a bid to break the top ten.

The Robins were the best Borough side last term with a fifth placed finish but most of the squad has followed former boss Ian Rowe to Gornal.

New manager Steve Hinks has spent the summer re-building the squad and says it will take time for the new team to gel.

Former Chasetown midfielder Kevin Thompson has arrived as skipper, while former Bilston Town man Tyrone Clarke and Chris Knight have impressed during pre-season.

Hinks said: “The whole squad went and I was left with just two players.

“It’s been very much a transitional period for us. We have been looking at players, bringing them in and trying to get the team structured.

“That will take time and it is a tough start to the season for us.

“We have a fairly young side who are good going forward but we are not the best at the back.

“It’s about finding the right balance over time.”

Meanwhile, Rowe is playing down his side’s hopes after losing five key players himself on the eve of the season.

Attacking midfielder Danny Ashton, has gone to Rushall Olympic, while Calum Martin, Mensah Kinch, Bekhir Halil and Robert Blair have also moved on.

The five were all former Robins players who moved with Rowe during the summer, though Marvin Nisbett and Jake Morgan remain at Gornal.

Rowe said: “It’s disappointing but it’s the way things work at this level, we just have to accept it and move on.

“This season is a re-building job, I keep hearing people say we could challenge for the title but I think we have lost too many players.

“We have not got enough out and out quality.

“It’s going to be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it, at the moment I would be happy with a top ten finish.

“That said we are coming off the back of a good pre-season.”

Tividale boss Dean Whitehouse says his side will be “in it to win it” in this year’s West Midlands Premier.

Whitehouse has brought in nine new faces to Packwood Road, including former Dudley Town and Causeway United hitman Nicky Turton.

Tivi finished seventh last term but the manager insists they will be aiming higher this year.

He said: “I’m excited about the new season.

“We have brought a few old heads in to go with the young players we already have and I’m fairly confident.

“Our first aim is to finish higher than last season but in reality we are no different to anyone else, we are in it to win it.”

Whitehouse has raided Oldbury Athletic during the close season to bring in Richard Taylor, centre back Andy Parsons, striker Chris Russell and Michael Woolman.

Stuart Baker and John Richards have also joined from Gornal Athletic, along with Ryan Brettle and John Bostock from West Midlands Police.

They join a young Tividale side which lacked consistency last season but showed plenty of promise, most notably in the run to the FA Cup first qualifying round where Tivi took Evesham United to a replay and extra time.

Whitehouse added: “It has got all the makings of a great season.

“There is no pressure on ourselves as such but I know the committee at the club want us to go for it.

“We will put pressure on ourselves to succeed.

“The players who have joined us have come to fight it out at the top.

“I’m no different and I’m really happy with the signings.”

Tividale will begin the season away to Goodrich on August 7, before a mouth-watering derby clash with Dudley Sports at Packwood Road on Tuesday.

Sports are another side who have kept the same management structure from last term, though there have been significant changes on the pitch.

Joint bosses Tony Gore and Paul Blakeley have raided Lye Town for Marcus Cooper and Wayne Reap as they bid to improve on last term’s disappointing 16th placed finish.

Stourbridge youngsters Scott Sumner and Sam Pearson have also signed forms, along with former Pensnett Panthers stars Clegg Stevens and Scott Mason.

Former Lye boss Mark Bache is also on the playing staff.

Gore (pictured left) said: “It’s a very much changed side from last season.

“We lost five or six first team players but we have replaced them with players of better quality.

“We will not be getting carried away or making bold predictions but we are not worried about any club in the division.

“I’m happy with the way pre-season has gone and we are excited about the new campaign.”

Sports kick off with a home game against Wednesfield on Saturday, while there are also derbies with Gornal Athletic and Dudley Town in the opening weeks.

Gore added: “There are plenty of local games to start with.

“We don’t need travel expenses just a daysaver on the bus!”