Clitheroe FC assistant boss Dave Hughes is fostering a sense of realism ahead of the new term.
Despite a record-breaking season in terms of points and position last year - which saw the Blues narrowly miss out on the Evo-Stik First Division North play-off places - Hughes is refusing to get too carried away.
But Shawbridge’s second in command to manager Paul Moore has been buoyed by pre-season preparations despite a mixed bag of results. The Blues recorded a comfortable 5-2 victory over East Villa in their final pre-season outing at the weekend.
“Pre-season has gone well,” he said. “We had a couple of blips with injury but other than that we’re ready. You can’t judge too much from pre-season form because you’re playing different players against different types of opposition. We picked up a good win on Saturday though to take us in to the season. We are confident.”
Hughes added: “You always start the season with the intention of securing safety first and foremost. It’s going to be a very strong league this year with the likes of Darlington, Kendall and Northwich Victoria coming in to it and you don’t know how other teams have recruited. We’ll initially target 40 points as we did last year and look to kick on from there.
“It’s hard to make predictions on upcoming seasons. We did fantastic last year but may be we over-achieved on that occasion. We’ll go in to the campaign fit and organised and see where it takes us. We will then have a better idea about 10 games in.”
The Blues have been handed a home start to the campaign as Farsley FC are the visitors to the Ribble Valley on Saturday with kick-off at 3 p.m. Neil Parsley’s side culminated the 2012/13 term in 14th.
“You look at their friendlies to see how they’ve got on but you know that they’ve probably used 18 or 19 players,” Hughes said. “We’ve had five decent players leave over the summer but we’ve done our best to replace those with equal quality. We are quietly confident going in to the first game. We just want to get something on the board at the first opportunity.”
Mason Ryan, who sustained a knee injury in the game against Ashton United, is in contention for the weekend though Tom Berwick, signed from Carlisle, is expected to be out until October after breaking a metatarsal in his left foot against Hurst Green.