BLUES boss Carl Garner is already sowing the seeds for next season.
Garner certainly isn’t getting carried away, with his side just 10 points from the drop zone, but he is keen to get a head start by extending that cushion before getting the bulk of his current crop to commit to the club.
The transition at the start of this campaign seriously damaged his side’s progression in terms of performances and results, and Garner is determined to prevent history from being repeated by formulating a settled squad of players.
“The goal now is to keep our heads down, work hard and pick up as many points as we can to stay away from the trap door,” said Garner. “If we pick up enough points then we can start planning ahead for next season.
“The task for myself and Lee is to identify the players in the current squad who are good enough to compete at the top end of this table. We need to keep hold of those who are capable of taking us in to the region of the top six. Then we have to find replacements for the ones that can’t.”
Garner added: “Our full strength squad is very decent. We will give anyone a game and I don’t think we’re too far off in terms of personnel. We would like a big powerful striker in the camp who can work as a target man and maybe one more attacking option down the right hand side. We want to put ourselves in a strong position for the summer and recruit more experienced heads to complete the jigsaw.”
The Christmas period saw the Blues beat Lancaster City 2-0 on Boxing Day before falling to defeat in controversial circumstances away at Durham City when Elliot Cutts’s eighth minute strike was adjudged to have crossed the line.
“It’s been a mixed bag over Christmas,” Garner said. “But we’ve taken six points from our last three games and we were definitely worth a point against Durham. We’re not even convinced that we conceded in that game because the referee waved play on but the linesman flagged to say that the ball had crossed the line.”
He added: “I’m happy with six points though and would have taken that going in to the run of matches, bearing in mind we’ve been without Chris Smalley, Marlon Broomes, James Davis and Lee Pugh. But the squad is healthy in terms of numbers.”
The latest success saw Clitheroe open 2012 with a bang at Shawbridge. Despite trailing to Jonathan Maloney’s strike at the interval, the Blues fought back with three goals in the final quarter-of-an-hour courtesy of Marcus Calvert and a late brace from the prolific Ashley Parillon.
“It was a good win at home to start the year but it was a funny game,” said Garner. “We’ve been the better side throughout but we gave away a poor goal. We didn’t equalise until the last 15 minutes and went on to win comfortably after missing a bag full of chances. It’s a good start for 2012.
“All the sides at the top, minus Fylde, are struggling for form at the moment while teams around us are winning so it’s been vital for us to pick up points. It’s almost been a complete turn around in form; it’s a strange one. It goes to show that there are no easy games.”