Knaresborough Town manager Brian Davey downplayed thoughts of promotion this season, but a strong start could reverse his mindset.
Town’s bolstered squad kick-off their new season for real on Saturday by battling Sheffield side Hallam (3pm), before a trip to Teveral on Tuesday evening.
And after a memorable second campaign in Northern Counties East League Division One last season, expectation has been raised for this year.
Davey has added experienced coach Rob Hunter to his backroom staff, and the former Glasshoughton Welfare boss has helped run the rule over Boro’s new recruits.
Quick winger Joel Freeston has returned after a stint at Glasshoughton in the league above, and ‘keeper Paul Hargreen, Liam Tuck and James Beeston have followed suit.
Former Harrogate Town defender Craig Radcliffe has chosen to move down the leagues from Harrogate Railway, while Ripon City’s player of the season from last year, Rob Mortimer, joined at right-back.
Davey has also recruited Tom Robinson from Pontefract Collieries.
Venezualen speedster Hilliard Serrao, who was training with Railway last season whilst playing for Glasshoughton, will also provide a goal threat alongside goal machine Colin Heath.
“We have certainly got a good strong squad together,” said the gaffer.
Asked whether he can guide Boro to promotion, Davey said: “We are getting closer to it.
“We think we can give it a good go this year.
“Anywhere from tenth upwards last year were very good sides.
“We gave certainly improved the squad. Whether that will be good enough to get into the top four, I am not sure.
“We must not go into it thinking we will win it. If we get to Christmas and we have a good chance, then we can start thinking about it.
“We came very strong in the second half of last season. I expect us to do that again.”
Sheffield side Penistone and AFC Mansfield have joined the league this season, and Davey predicted both would feature at the top of the table throughout the campaign.
Former Manchester United prodigy Heath will also be key to Boro’s success.
The forward scored more than 25 goals for the Reds last season, and he has returned to training fitter than ever, according to his manager.
“He has come back sharper this year than he did last year,” Davey said.
“But we have to find another two goalscorere alongside him that can also get the goals.”