It is full steam ahead at Frickley Athletic with the players already back in pre-season training and five new signings completed in the last week.
Manager Craig Spink has explained that pre-season has started early in a bid to prevent injuries in the long campaign that starts in August.
He said: “What many people think is if you come back for pre-season early you are giving it big time. What we’ve done is not that – it’s injury prevention.
“We’ve got the best of the best in, we’ve got Paul Harmson in from Sheffield Wednesday as strength and conditioning coach and he’s just making sure we’re ready because Evo-Stik is a long season – 50 plus games with Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday.
“We don’t want anyone breaking down so that’s the reason the lads are in.”
Spink is excited by the players that Frickley have been able to bring in with five more confirmed, including 24-year-old former Manchester United and Barnsley Academy midfielder Nenad Smiljanic, who has spent the past few years in the USA playing at Atlanta.
He said: “I’m excited to get going. I spoke to the gaffer and he told me his plans and the direction the club’s heading in and I wanted to be a part of it. I need to get a good pre-season under my belt and hit the ground running in August and hopefully help the club challenge for promotion.”
Joining Smiljanic at Westfield Lane is winger Johnny Pugh, who has signed after a stint with Sheffield FC last season. The 24-year-old also played in America at Parkland College.
He said: “I was very excited by the plans and projects that are in place at the club.
“Also the thought of getting a fresh start with a young and enthusiastic manager was a big pull for me.”
Spink said: “This is another good signing for the club, he will be bring plenty of energy and quality to the squad.
“There is no doubting the quality that Nenad has and we are delighted he is also with us at Frickley.”
A third major signing is Jake Currie, a 26-year-old who can play in midfield or across the front line. He was at Hallam last season after previously playing for Worksop Town and Handsworth.
On his arrival, Spink said: “Jake is a player I know well. He is a terrific footballer who has the ability to play a variety of positions and has the work ethic that we look for in our players. It is another important signing for us.”
Completing the influx of players are goalkeeper Alfie Stevens-Neale and young midfielder Jed Wilkinson.
Stevens-Neale started wearing the gloves at Bradford Park Avenue and has also played for Thackley and Steeton.
On signing, he said: “I’m really happy to have signed on for a club a couple of tiers higher than last year.
“It’s good to already be getting some sessions in and I can’t wait to get my boots and gloves on and get started.”
For Wilkinson it is a quick return to Westfield Lane after he featured for the U21s and first team last season before spending the back end at Harworth.
He said: “I’m really pleased to have re-signed at the club. As soon as the gaffer got in touch I knew it was the right move for me having played under him at Frickley last year and then at Harworth towards the back end of the season.
“The style of football his teams play really suits me as a footballer and I can’t wait to get started and hopefully help the club achieve what they deserve to this season.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring any of the new players can contact Ryan on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07743 061264.
Players are also required for Frickley’s under 18s team. Contact Brad Ravenhill on 07943 517008.