Steve Cunningham is adamant that Colne FC will be competitive in their first ever season in the Evo-Stik League.
Despite losing last season’s leading scorer Jay Hart to Ramsbottom ahead of the First Division North campaign, the XLCR Stadium boss has recruited well over the summer with goalkeeper Ben Woodhead, defender Danny Morton, midfielder Joe Garvin and forward Matty Beadle all penning deals.
Adding that quartet to his North West Counties Premier Division title-winning squad has given Cunningham plenty of optimism for the challenge ahead.
“We’ve made some big signings and we’re building a really good squad now which is full of quality,” he said.
“We’ve added to what we had last year - a team that won the league, only lost four games, had a very good defensive unit and boasted the second best attack.
“Getting promoted meant that we had to freshen things up because we want to keep on achieving things.”
Cunningham added: “We want to progress as a football club and these signings demonstrate that. We’ve managed to keep hold of everyone else as well which is great.
“The likes of Al Coleman, Simon Nangle, Michael Morrison, Ben Wharton and Danny Boyle are all staying too. I think that demonstrates our intent.”
Colne will kickstart their pre-season preparations at Keighley Road tomorrow against Silsden AFC who were relegated to the 10th tier of the English football pyramid last season.
The Reds will then take on Euxton Villa on Saturday, July 16th before Evo-Stik Premier Division new boys Warrington Town provide the opposition at Holt House the following Tuesday, kick-off 7-45 p.m.
Goalkeeper Tony Aghayere’s team mates will then be in town as Colne play host to Burnley FC’s Development Squad on Friday, July 22nd, with the fixture scheduled to start at 7-45 p.m.
The Reds will travel to the Silentnight Stadium to tackle rivals Barnoldswick Town on Tuesday, July 26th while the Charity Shield clash with Atherton Collieries will take place on home soil on Friday, July 29th, with kick-off at 7-45 p.m.
A Colne XI will then travel to Victoria Park the following day to face rivals Nelson FC and then Cunningham’s men will entertain Ashton United in their final friendly on Tuesday, August 2nd.
Looking ahead to next term, Cunningham said: “We’re not there to make up the numbers next season, we’re looking to achieve a play-off finish at minimum. We’ve got to go for it, otherwise what’s the point?
“We don’t just want to settle for survival or mid-table. The club backed me all the way in what we wanted to achieve in the North West Counties.
“We completed our three-year plan in two seasons and we’re getting bigger and bigger as a club. Everyone has got the same ambition which makes my job easier. Everyone is striving to move forward.”
He added: “There’s no reason why we can’t go up and compete but we won’t be naive. We know that we’re the underdogs because there are some very established clubs in that division.
“We’ve got that hunger and a winning mentality though.”