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28 May 2021 : Calum points to plenty of excitement and challenges ahead

Manager Calum McIntyre has given an update on continuing preparations for the 2021-22 season.

He says: "It has been a busy spell for all of us as we prepare for the season ahead. Upon the lockdown restrictions easing, we made the decision to get the squad back together for one night per week and also arranged two friendly fixtures.

"The main reason for ensuring we returned to training was largely to get this group of players back together as quickly as possible. We didn't do anything too technical, they are really close-knit squad and we felt it was important we had some contact together to preserve that.

"As well as that, we were able to get an earlier than usual look at some trialists and potential new recruits. This was the main reason for a friendly fixture away at Radcliffe, where we fielded nearly ten trialists across the two halves. It was a really useful exercise and we feel this early approach to recruitment will benefit us during pre-season.

"Our attention has pretty consistently been on next season, we now have some clarity as to the make up of our division and the challenge ahead for us is there for all to see.

"We feel that last season, the nature of a variety of circumstances made for a different pre-season.

"This year, we feel we will be able to get significantly more work done with the players on the training pitch and can dictate a little more as to when we play our pre-season fixtures.

"Lots of planning has gone in to our pre-season programme. We have limited our midweek fixtures as much as possible to ensure that we don't lose a midweek training session and have also provided a variety of opposition both home and away.

"We have planned the entire training block for pre-season with the opposition coming at the right time to meet the areas we are targeting at certain points in pre-season.

"As mentioned above, we wanted to get as much recruitment done as early as possible to ensure that the group that returns for pre-season training towards the end of June consists of predominantly lads that are committed for the season ahead, rather than a large number of trialists.

"We were very clear that we wanted to retain the vast majority of a group that we felt were progressing nicely until the lockdown. We felt we were hitting the kind of form the group were capable of, but equally we are well aware where we needed to improve and tried to target those specific areas in our recruitment.

"We wanted to ensure those players we brought in to the existing group offered a level of dynamism as well as ensuring they fitted within the existing structure.

"So many of the conversations around retaining last year's squad were very short which is really, really pleasing. To get Peter Wylie and James Short done first was important, they are two real positive characters in our dressing room and were quick to commit for next season.

"It isn't right to single out each individual player but it was really pleasing to get the commitment off talented youngsters such as Iwan Murray and Paddy Wharton.

"Iwan had offers significantly further up the pyramid but felt that he needs a full season of football under his belt before progressing back up the leagues. The potential he has is clear for all to see and it is inevitable that Iwan will be playing much higher up the pyramid in the not too distant future.

"Equally, Paddy Wharton is an outstanding goalkeeper for this level of football and beyond. He had a COVID- enforced stop start campaign last season but I was really pleased to get him committed despite competition from other clubs at this level.

"To have retained so many of last season's squad is huge for us. They are an outstanding group both on and off the pitch. Their talent and commitment is everything we could ask for and we are all determined to build on the foundations established in last season's curtailed campaign.

"I have complete belief in this squad of players and remain excited as to what they can achieve.

"There are obviously a handful of bits and bobs to be done in signing players. We envisage three to four players committing in the not too distant future to complete our squad but it isn't right to discuss that at this moment in time.

"We have complimented the existing group with the three new signings, all of which add something to us in different areas. They have slotted into the group nicely and we look forward to integrating them fully during pre-season.

"A word for Craig Lindfield who has recently undergone surgery with an issue that troubled him during last season. Linny was terrific for us last campaign but needed to have his surgery to allow the issue to not progress further.

"The operation was a success and he now begins his rehabilitation with our Therapist Luke Davies. I know how committed Linny will be to his recovery and in Luke he has a genuine expert in his field to assist his return to the pitch.

"It has been a long time since we were at a game together and it is exciting to have pre-season just round the corner. Due to circumstances, very few of the targets I set for the group eleven months ago and have been achieved and this only increases our desire to have some success here at Linnets.

"We have used the time off to plan and to improve. The work that has been undertaken around the ground by an incredible team of volunteers is superb and their effort is appreciated by the first-team staff and players alike.

"The Euxton Villa friendly promises to be a fantastic occasion as we welcome our supporters back to the ground with a game that is free admission.

"I would encourage as many supporters as possible to attend with a friend or two to show them what we are trying to build for the season ahead.

"It feels like a superb opportunity to show the local community that we are worthy of their support. We feel we have prepared properly but we are all under no illusions about the challenge ahead next season.

"To have any level of success, we will need absolutely everyone and that is players, staff, supporters and volunteers.

"We will need everyone right behind us and we will need to make sure we reward that support every single time we go out.

"Many thanks for your continued support, we will be working harder than ever for the season ahead."

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