Connor Dugard believes Eastbourne Eagles emerged stronger for their Good Friday mauling by Kent.

Now he hopes to see them prove it as the Kings cross the county border for National League action at Arlington tonight (7.30pm).

Eagles were thumped 56-34 on their own shale in a pre-season challenge outing and lost new No.1 Kyle Hughes to a broken leg.

They also lost a return fixture later in the day and saw skipper Richie Andrews suffer a broken scaphoid.

Charley Powell’s grasstrack commitments mean that, of the side humbled at Easter, only Jake Knight and Georgie Wood will race tonight.

Dugard, who has taken over as team manager since then, said: “We are stronger now and Kent are just as strong an outfit.

“But they are beatable, as Birmingham have proved recently.

“What happened on Good Friday allowed me to re-shape my team and not many managers get that chance.

“I think the changes have made us better. We miss Richie and Kyle was shaping up to be a good No.1 “But any National League team who get the chance to bring in Adam Ellis has to take it and that has left us in good shape.

“We brought in Luke Harris at reserve and I think an established three-pointer is better than a raw three-pointer.

“We never wanted Ben Hopwood to go but it came down to the numbers game.

“We brought in Ellis Perks and I think he is starting to find his form.

“I can’t see any reason why Ellis can’t now go on to become the rider he wants to be.

“I’ve seen him in the Premier League and he has good potential.”

Eagles have won all 23 competitive home fixtures since joining the National League at the start of last season but needed a late comeback to avoid defeat by Birmingham last time out.

Tonight’s test could be even tougher and Dugard said: “We can’t really afford to make mistakes.

“We can’t chuck away points for falling off, engine failures or anything like that.

“I’m confident we can make the play-offs. The plan is not to lose any meetings at home and to pick up at least a losing bonus point everywhere we go.

“Whatever Birmingham and Kent are doing, that is our benchmark.

“But we don’t have to finish top. If we finish fourth, third, second, I’m really not too worried.”

Eagles: Ellis, Cottham r/r, Wood, Perks, Knight, Harris, Brennan.

Kent: Bowen, Clifton, Shanes, Mason, Ayres, Verge, Thomas.