AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor has backed his players to thrive in their new league.
Challinor was named the Northern Premier League’s manager of the year after guiding Fylde up to the Conference North through the NPL Premier Division play-offs in May.
And the former Tranmere Rovers man believes his players are ready to make the step up as they take on Brackley Town tomorrow at Kellamergh Park.
He said: “I’m confident the lads can make the step up to this league – we have put faith in the lads players have got us promotion.
“It is going to be a difficult division, it is wide open – I don’t see anybody running away with it.”
And Challinor is hoping Fylde’s new-boy status will help them get off to a flying start tomorrow.
He said: “It is a tough one because Brackley were strong last season. They had one of the biggest budgets in the league but they have lost a few players.
“So they will be an unknown quantity but, as we are new, so will we. It is great to be at home but we will be playing against a team we don’t know a lot about – it is up to us to concentrate on ourselves and stick to our plan.
“We are looking forward to the new season – we are in a good place and we are hoping to get off to a good start.”
Fylde have won three and drawn two of their seven pre-season fixtures and Challinor is eager for the new campaign to start.
He said: “Pre-season has been okay, we have done what we needed to do. But it is always difficult – we haven’t had a session with all the players due to holidays but everyone will be together tomorrow.”
Harry Winter left Fylde to join fellow Conference North newcomers Chorley but Challinor may need to add more defensive cover.
He said: “We have a squad of around 18 but we are aware we may need more defensive cover.”
“We’ve lost four players but we have also added four – Tom Hannigan, Liam Tomsett, Michael Potts and Dion Charles.
“We will see how it goes. I’m hoping to add one more player to the squad.
“We have a few niggles, especially defensively – we are low on numbers in that department as Dave Hankin is out with a back injury.”