Darren Holmes insists Glasshoughton Welfare start pre-season with a solid spine as he and Lee Vigars begin assembling their fairly new-look squad.
Glasshoughton fielded a youthful side in the 2-1 victory over Rothwell Town, with only a handful of older bodies.
Some may say the squad was light on experience, but Holmes dismissed that, highlighting the likes of Craig Tonkinson, Adam Walsh, Sam Pashley, Aiden Tyas and Nathan Perks as five players that give Welfare a good backbone going into the new campaign.
“Tonks has been around the Northern Counties East League for quite a while and also above,” Holmes told Non League Yorkshire.
“Walshy, Sam (Pashley), the centre-halves, have experience and you look at the back four, it is strong. Aiden in goal is very good and is experienced. There’s also Perksy who again has experience. There’s a couple of other players with experience too.
“We have a good spine to the team and we have a mix of young players who we will see in the next few weeks (in the friendlies) whether they are up to playing in the NCEL.
“What we do need is more goals in the side. Walshy was the top goal-scorer from centre-half last year and we need Perksy to chip in 15/20 goals, along with others.
“Perksy has that in him. He came to us at the end of last season and scored a lot of goals in a short number of games. His scoring rate is pretty good. I expect him to do well.”
Holmes and Vigars are Glasshoughton’s longest serving management team since Craig Elliott, arguably the club’s greatest ever manager, led Welfare on a magical journey over the course of two seasons nearly ten years ago.
Heading into their fourth campaign in the Leeds Road dugout they are no strangers to having to rebuild their Glasshoughton squad.
Each summer has seen them lose key bodies and then successfully tap into Step 7 or youth football for unearthed diamonds.
Nostell Miners Welfare wing wizard Richard Collier, Jack Knight and Andy Horbury are three prime examples of players plucked from obscurity and have gone onto shine in the NCEL.
Holmes is hopeful that the policy will be effective again.
“Teams like ourselves have to find those hidden gems by finding lads who want to step up from the West Yorkshire League Premier or below,” he said.
“We don’t have the big bucks that other clubs have. But we have been very successful in finding players good enough to step up from the West Yorkshire League and want to.
“The unfortunate thing is we tend to keep hold of these players for about ten games and then they get snapped up by another club.
“If you look at the players we have had in our three seasons in charge that have now gone onto to play higher, we’d have what I think would be a championship-winning side.
“Because we have been successful in the past finding hidden gems, it does give us confidence that can find some more for what is going to be a difficult season.
“The top four going up is great and it is great that the league or the FA have done that.
“But it would have been nice for the fourth spot to have been a play-off place so that it would have gone to seventh place to make it more competitive.
“With four promotion places, it means the bigger teams with budgets are throwing plenty of money at it.
“It is going to be difficult, but we are going to aim for top six like we always do and if we can stay in the mix at Christmas and beyond, who knows? We might nick that fourth spot.”