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IF THE bookmakers are to be believed, Truro City are destined for relegation from Blue Square Bet South this season.
The league's sponsors have City at 100-1 for the title, with only Maidenhead United at 125-1 behind them in the pre-season betting.
But City boss Lee Hodges is confident they can defy the odds and survive in the league for a second successive season providing the club's financial future is secured.
The squad returned to training on Tuesday and Hodges is upbeat about his team's prospects, even though no-one has actually put pen to paper yet.
He said: "I know everyone expects us to be relegated, but I know what the players are capable of.
"It is going to be difficult, but my target is an improvement on last season, when we finished 14th with 48 points. I am sure we will have a competitive squad."
All of the squad have been offered new contracts and the vast majority have agreed in principle to the new deals.
However, it is all dependent on adequate funding for the forthcoming season being secured, with speculation that chairman Kevin Heaney will be stepping back from day to day involvement with the club.
Hodges is still waiting to hear from skipper Jake Ash, Barry Hayles and Scott Walker on whether they will be staying.
It is known that a number of other squad members have also attracted intense interest from rival clubs, and will not wait forever for the situation to be resolved.
But if all goes according to plan, the bulk of last season's squad should start the season at Treyew Road, including much sought after striker Andy Watkins who has, it is understood, rejected overtures from newly-promoted Conference premier outfit Woking.
"It all looks a lot more positive than it did a few weeks ago," admitted Hodges.
"Once I know everything is sorted out we can get going but you can't ask players to go on waiting indefinitely. "
Among those at Tuesday evening's first training session at Tregye, was former Salisbury City midfielder Ben Addlesbury, who looks poised to join the club if the financial situation is resolved.
Former player Dan Green also took part, though he is also attracting interest from Dorchester Town.
"It was a really good session," said Hodges.
Defender Steve Adams looks sure to miss the start of the season after an ankle operation, while Marcus Martin may also be a doubt after also undergoing an ankle operation.
Martin Watts, who missed the whole of last season with injury, should also be fit to resume playing by September.
Ed Palmer, who spent a spell at City last season on loan from Torquay United, has decided to join Kettering Town, rather than return to Treyew Road.
The fixtures were released on Monday and for the second successive season, Truro City will start their Blue Square Bet South campaign with a long away trip to Essex.
Last season, City began their season at Chelmsford City, winning 1-0, and now on Saturday August 18 they will make the 650-mile round trip to play newly-promoted Billericay Town. Their first home game is four days later on Tuesday August 21 at home to Havant and Waterlooville and on Saturday the 25th they are at home to Salisbury City.
They complete a hectic August at Weston-super-Mare on Bank Holiday Monday, August 27. On Boxing Day, City entertain Dorchester Town and travel to the Dorset side for the return game on New Year's Day. City's final game of the season is at Tonbridge Angels on Saturday April 27.
Hodges said: "It would have been nice to have started and finished at home but you can't do anything about it. Every game will be difficult. It is a tough league."
Barry McConnell, who was the only player from last season's squad not to be offered a new contract, has expressed his disappointment at the decision. Read his exclusive interview on page 108.