He has already described it as his "toughest pre-season ever", but now Farnborough boss Spencer Day admits it has become all the more challenging after missing out on his number one summer transfer target this week.

Already rocked by the departures of captain Alan Inns and Player of the Year Josh Huggins, Day has only a handful of players – including his five new arrivals Lewis Ferrell, Arron Hopkinson, Joe Taylor, Paul Rodgers and Joe Benjamin – currently on contract for next season, while his playing budget is as restricted as ever.

And the situation worsened again this week when hopes of signing loan favourite JJ Hooper on a permanent deal diminished as he became the latest ex-Farnborough player to join the ranks at big-spending Havant & Waterlooville.

Day has invited a host of players to the start of pre-season training this Saturday with trialists – including former Eastleigh and Crawley wide man Chris Flood and ex-Boro midfielder Phil Appiah – looking to earn deals.

But with Day insisting he faces the prospect of working with the lowest playing budget in the league next season with no Conference funding or sponsorship in place, the boss has warned that a long, hard summer lies ahead.

“There are going to be a number of very late decisions I suspect and I think we’ll be doing business right up until the start of the season.

“Our budget just does not compare with the rest of the division and the odds are massively stacked against us, but we’ve beaten the odds before and it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.

“We’ve invited a number of players down on Saturday and it’ll be a question of sifting through what we’ve got for the next three to four weeks and seeing if we can unearth that little gem from somewhere.

“JJ [Hooper] was our number one target and Leigh [Dynan, assistant boss] and I were gutted we weren't able to bring him back after the impact he made on loan last season.

"But when Havant are offering him three times more than we are there’s not much chance of that happening.

"That’s the harsh reality of the situation we are in. We need the fans more than ever.”

Supporters are being encouraged to take advantage of the club’s Early Bird Season Ticket offer before it runs out on July 1.

Application forms are available to download from www.farnboroughfc.co.uk or to pick up from Farneys Café from 9am-2pm.