Blues boss Lee Ashforth ready to do a bit of wheeling and dealing

Striker George West celebrates scoring for Clitheroe
Striker George West celebrates scoring for Clitheroe
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Lee Ashforth will be breaking everything down and analysing the situation at Shawbridge ahead of a big rebuild over the summer.

The Clitheroe manager confirmed that he has sat down and held talks with committee members to outline his plans for next season.

The one-time Harrogate Railway Athletic and Ossett Town boss will begin by identifying the nucleus of the squad that he wishes to keep hold of, before making moves in the transfer market.

After avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth this term, Ashforth acknowledges that his group isn’t strong enough to find success in the Evo-Stik League.

He said: “Now the players are playing for next season, they’re playing for their shirts and they know that. They’ve all been told.

“I’ve had a good conversation with some committee members after the game and if we go into next season with the same squad, that it isn’t good enough.

“We’ve got to improve the squad and we’ll look to do that. We need to keep the core of the team, which everybody does at this level, and build over two or three years.

“We’ve got to work out the best five or six players who can take us forward, and then we’ll add five or six players to that. That’s a rough number. Some will say that we need a whole new squad, but that isn’t going to happen.

“If we go in with a fresh sheet of paper, then we’ll be in exactly the same position next season. We’ve got to kick on and keep improving.

“We’ve really got to have a look at things, analyse things, have a look at what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong.

“The committee here are very realistic, they knew how hard this season was going to be, and I know I’ve got their backing going into next year. We’ll work it out and we’ll get it right.”

Ashforth, who stepped in to the hot seat following Stuart Mellish’s departure earlier in the campaign, has already earmarked players that he’d wish to keep.

The club has been forced to plug gaps with a number of quick fixes this season, but, with a full summer under his belt, Ashforth is determined to address that issue.

“At the moment we’re happy with Alex Low and Andy Langford,” he confirmed. “They’ve both come in and done brilliantly over the last month. I also think Cole [Lonsdale] at left back has been outstanding.

“Going into next year, would we have a problem with those three playing? No, we wouldn’t. Do we need to possibly improve in the right back area? Yes.

“We’ve got a number of options with Mike Wilson and Josh Snowden and Ryan Botell, who hasn’t really had a chance yet. He’s had a long term injury so we’ll have a look at that and see where we go.

“Once you hit pre-season you’re looking to improve everywhere. That is the thing for the players at the minute, they’re fighting for their places now.

“We can relax a little bit because we can’t go down, but it’s important that we don’t finish in the bottom two.”