HEYBRIDGE Swifts assistant boss Karl Duguid believes his side's exceptional work ethic can inspire another promotion push next season.

The Aspen Waite Arena club won the Isthmian League division north play-offs but were controversially denied the chance to go up because of temporary promotion and relegation methods due to a restructuring of the National League system.

It was a bitter pill to swallow but Colchester United legend Duguid, who works alongside manager Julian Dicks, is backing his players to come back fighting in 2019/20.

And he believes no side will work harder in their quest for success.

“The way last season finished was a real shambles and made a mockery of what we achieved," he said.

“Can you imagine the FA saying the same thing to last year’s League One or League Two play-off winners?

“It left a nasty taste because we were a very decent side that deserved to go up but at least we can say we won our play-offs and no-one can take that away from us.

“We just have to crack on and hopefully we’ll build on our success.

“We kept winning and winning, even when not playing especially well, and that was basically down to our work-rate and fitness.

“The gaffer told the players he wanted them to work hard for him and if they did that, they’d be in his team.

“That’s all he asked and whenever we lost, it was because we hadn’t worked hard enough.

“Fitness was a big thing, too, because the fitter you are, the more your ability shines through."

Duguid, who made over 400 appearances for Colchester, enjoys working alongside former West Ham and Liverpool defender Dicks.

He says they have struck up a great understand and are on the same page in terms of work-rate.

“Julian’s a good guy and we hit it off straight away," he said.

“He’s very honest, says it as it is and wants honesty and respect in return.

“He and I have similar views in terms of wanting the players to work hard.

“That was always the way I played.

“I wasn’t the most technically gifted but got the most out of my ability by working hard.

“He values my opinions and listens to what I have to say.

“After his first training session I remember thinking ‘wow’.

“He puts on proper sessions – the kind of thing you see every day at a pro club – and we reaped the rewards last season.”

Heybridge return for pre-season training on July 2 and play their first friendly at Essex Senior League side Walthamstow on July 13.

On the following two Saturdays they host Thurlow Nunn League premier division side FC Clacton (July 20) and Isthmian League south-east outfit East Grinstead (July 27).

Walton Casuals, of the Evo-Stik Southern League premier division, provide the final opposition at the Aspen Waite Arena on Saturday, August 3.