Notts County manager Shaun Derry will be hoping his side can continue where they left off last season when they visit Preston North End at Deepdale on the opening day of the new campaign tomorrow.
It may seem a rather strange thing to say considering the Magpies narrowly escaped the clutches of relegation from League One.
They finished just three points above the dropzone and only ensured their safety with a 1-1 draw against Oldham Athletic on the final day.
However, at one time, County looked certainties to be relegated but a run of six wins and just two defeats in their final nine games secured their status in League One for another season. Derry has opted to boost his squad ahead of the new term with experience.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper, 36-year-old Roy Carroll, signed for the club this week while midfielder Gary Jones, who is a year older at 37, sealed a switch to Meadow Lane yesterday from Bradford City.
Those two join other veteran summer signings, ex-Leeds United striker Alan Smith – now aged 33 – and former West Ham United midfielder Hayden Mullins (35).
Allied to those four is the acquisition of former North End midfielder Nicky Wroe, who sealed a deal at Meadow Lane in July after his contract at Deepdale finished.
In fact, Derry swooped for Wroe on the recommendation of PNE striker Kevin Davies.
The Magpies boss is banking on that experience to have a major influence on the Magpies’ dressing room this year.
“You only have to look at what Gary Jones has achieved to see that he’s an absolute warrior,” said Derry.
“I want him to come here and be more than a player.
“I want him to be a strong influence in the dressing room along with people like Alan Smith, Hayden Mullins and Roy Carroll.”
It has not all been about experience in the transfer market however, as Derry has tied up a deal for 20-year-old midfielder Elliott Whitehouse this week after he was released by Sheffield United.
PNE manager Simon Grayson is well aware of the difficulties County had last season but believes it will not count for anything come tomorrow.
“I think they were in and out of the bottom four more than any other team last season,” Grayson said. “But that’s history – that’s not going to play any part in what will happen in tomorrow’s game.”
PRESTON NORTH END: Jones, Woods, Clarke, Wright, B Davies, Kilkenny, Brownhill, Browne, Gallagher, Little, Garner
NOTTS COUNTY: Carroll, Adams, Hollis, Dumbuya, Mullins, Smith, Ismail, Wroe, Jones, Thompson, Cassidy
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