ON THE GOAL TRAIL - Loick Pires now has two goals in two games for the Cards

ON THE GOAL TRAIL – Loick Pires now has two goals in two games for the Cards

GARRY HILL has stoked the fire ahead of the season curtain raiser and warned Wrexham: “We’ll be ready.”

Speaking after his side outgunned Aldershot 2-1 in their final pre-season friendly, Hill declared himself happy with the way preparations had concluded.

He said: “I expect every team in the Blue Square Premier to be competitive but we’ll be ready – I’m sure of that.”

I’m sure there will be a certain degree of excitement next Saturday at 3pm for sure

Defeat to minnows Windsor in July was quickly rectified with subsequent wins over Crawley and AFC Wimbledon, while a spirited display against a QPR select XI will have given the manager huge encouragement.

Cards were held to back-to-back 1-1 draws at Carshalton and Hornchurch, but goals from Loick Pires and Jack Parkinson ensured Woking’s pre-season ended on a high against the Shots.

Attention now turns to the opening day trip to the Racecourse Ground and Hill believes the Cards – who are still looking to bring in three more players before the start of the campaign – must adapt quickly or risk a harsh culture shock.

Hill added: “We know it’s going to be tough going up to Wrexham but we’ll look forward to it – it’s something we’ve been waiting for since we won promotion. I’m sure there will be a certain degree of excitement next Saturday at 3pm for sure.

“We’re level-headed at the club and I’ve always been quite reserved on things so the number one aim is to get 50 points – I think that gives you the first cushion to build with going forward.

“I think we are going to go to some places and get a rude awakening and we’re going to learn a certain amount as we go along in the league.

“The boys have worked hard and we’ll be at the level we need to be next week – we’ve just got to go through a few things to make sure we are ready for Saturday.”

Pires bagged his second goal in as many games to give Woking a third minute lead against old foes Aldershot.

Kevin Betsy’s deep corner was kept alive at the back post by Parkinson and in the resulting melee Pires was able to hammer home a loose clearance from close-range.

And it was Woking’s Welling-connection that helped double their lead midway through the second half.

Lee Sawyer’s deflected cross sparked confusion in the Aldershot area and Parkinson was alert to smash in from inside the six-yard box.

Shots pulled one back minutes later when Michael Rankine got on the end of Jordan Roberts’ in-swinging corner, but that was to conclude the afternoon’s scoring.

The goals may have stopped but the drama was far from over and after the break Sawyer was amazingly denied by the woodwork at both ends.

A long back pass eluded Aaron Howe and hit the upright before a controlled effort at the other end grazed the outside of Jordan Clement’s post.

Doug Bergqvist should have seen a late red for a tug on trialist Kurtis Guthrie with the striker clean through on goal but he escaped with a caution.

Tackles flew in from both teams but Woking came through the tussle unscathed, victory over the old enemy teeing them up perfectly for the clash with Wrexham.

ON YOUR MARKS - skipper Mark Ricketts is desperate to make up for lost time

ON YOUR MARKS – skipper Mark Ricketts is desperate to make up for lost time

MARK RICKETTS has vowed to become Captain Fantastic as he bids to put last season’s nightmare behind him.

Cards’ no-nonsense leader has been waiting patiently for his return to first team action for nearly eight months.
During his absence Woking have celebrated a return to the Blue Square Premier and basked in the glory of a Surrey Senior Cup final triumph.

And though the skipper remained a prominent figure around the club, watching from the sidelines has left the captain craving a return to the limelight.

With the start of the new season just days away, Ricketts says the frustration of missing so much of last season will drive him forward into the new campaign.

Missing so much of last season definitely fuels me going into the new campaign. I’ve been really excited about every pre-season game so far

He said: “I’ve been away quite a while and I’ll be doing all I can to make sure Woking have a good season – I hope I can be Captain Fantastic.”

Speaking to the Woking News & Mail, Ricketts said that time away fro football had reignited his love for the game.

He reckons the manager has done a tremendous job nursing “an excitable kid” back up to full-fitness, and said he  is looking forward to getting back into the heart of Woking’s engine room.

He said: “I feel good and I feel like I’m at 100 per cent now.

“The gaffer has been careful with the amount of minutes I’ve been playing in games and built it up gradually.

“I’ve felt good in every game I’ve played and post match I’ve felt fresh which is very positive.

“Missing so much of last season definitely fuels me going into the new campaign. I’ve been really excited about every pre-season game so far.

“It’s been like playing football as a kid again. I’m excited for every game anyway but even more so this pre-season – I’m just so happy to be out there and kicking a ball about.

“I have been doing a lot of extra work in my own time to try to get back to max fitness and I want to make sure we achieve something as a club next season.”

Garry Hill has bolstered his rearguard in a bid to make Woking’s defence impenetrable next term.

Ricketts will anchor the midfield infront of new-recruits Brett Johnson and Jack Parkinson – two players the captain believes will play a vital role against the Dragons.

“I’m really looking forward to see how we cope in the league above. The team is taking shape really well which is nice and the strength we have in the squad at the moment is another reason to be excited.

“Brett has come in and done fantastically well, he’s been a great signing for the club as has Jack. They’ve both looked incredibley solid and adding to that is Joe and Doylie who are top-draw centre-halves.

“In those areas we are really strong and, depending on what formation we play next season, I think we’ve got a great core to build around and provide the foundations for when we break forward and go on the attack.

“I like playing in the hole, breaking up play and trying to get the ball rolling again so we can break – that’s an important job.

“All over the world you see players in that role especially when a team plays three in the centre of the park.” And though avoiding relegation remains the club’s top priority, Ricketts is adamant Woking are not just there to make up the numbers.

He firmly believes Hill’s new-look Cards can upset the odds and challenged his team mates to help him banish the personal pain of last season and achieve something truly memorable.

“I want to win something. It would be nice to come away with something next season be it a trophy or a major finish – something big to make up for missing such a large chunk of last season.

“We know it’s going to be a very tough league but we’ll be giving it everything week in, week out.

“There are a lot of top players out there and clubs with bigger budgets than us.

“But the squad the gaffer has put together so far is brilliant and hopefully we can really compete and cause a bit of a surprise.”

BIG MAC - Joe McNerney towers over everyone to head home Woking's second

BIG MAC – Joe McNerney towers over everyone to head home Woking’s second

JOE McNERNEY gave Garry Hill some food for thought after thundering home the decisive second goal in Woking’s 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon.

McNerney, on as a second half substitute, rose highest to head home Jesse Waller-Lassen’s corner to double his side’s advantage after Bradley Bubb’s 19th minute volley had given the hosts the lead.

Jack Midson reduced the deficit ten minutes from time after the Dons were awarded a controversial penalty.

But Woking were rarely threatened and eased their way to victory in a game that honoured the memory of former player and chairman Phil Ledger.

It was nice to be able to honour a real legend at the club with a performance like that

After the game Hill admitted an additional friendly with Hornchurch had been arranged to give every member of his squad the chance to prove their worth before the start of the season.

And McNerney, who faces stiff competition from Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson and Adam Doyle to secure a place in the starting XI, confirmed he will keep working hard to force his way into the manager’s plans.

He said: “Hopefully the goal will stick in the gaffer’s mind but I’m sure he will be focusing on my performance at the back.

“There is competition in every position and everyone is looking to stake their claim.

“The extra friendly is another chance to impress but pre-season is all about fitness, no one is really worried about results yet.

“All the lads will want to get out there and make sure the impress they manager.

“We’ve got a strong core of players at the club now and the spirit in the dressing room is positive – everyone is getting on and working hard.”

McNerney also hailed the way his side outplayed and outclassed their Football League opponents.

He described the performance as a fitting way to celebrate Phil Ledger’s outstanding service to both Woking and AFC Wimbledon.

“I was actually really impressed with the way we played last night. We kept the ball well, played some good football and controlled the game.

“It was nice to be able to honour a real legend at the club with a performance like that and it’s brilliant that we could host the cup against a top team in AFC Wimbledon.”

IN THE MARKET - new-boy Lee Sawyer could be joined by 'two or three' additional signings

IN THE MARKET – new-boy Lee Sawyer could be joined by ‘two or three’ additional signings

GARRY HILL reckons Woking are just warming up in the transfer market despite bolstering his ranks with three signings in two days.

Mike Cestor, Lee Sawyer and Bradley Bubb all agreed deals to join the Cards late last week.

But speaking after the 2-1 friendly defeat to a QPR select XI, Hil revealed he is still working hard to bring in ‘two or three’ new recruits.

If a player isn’t going to strengthen the squad then unfortunately we have to say goodbye

He confirmed that Greg Mills’ trial with the club has been unsuccessful, but suggested a few new faces could feature against AFC Wimbledon in the Phil Ledger memorial cup on Tuesday.

Hill said: “In 20 years of management I’ve never been in a position where so many calls are just starting to warm up.

“I’m quite relaxed about the club’s current situation but there will definitely be some movement as July is a time when clubs elsewhere are looking at their figures and discussing their own options.

“We are trying to be as honest as we can with players but we need to be 100 per cent sure that they are going to be the right players and that they’ll fit in with the rest of the squad.

“We’re still looking for players to come in and there are two or three we are still analysing, after that we’ll start to have a clearer image of how the squad will look.

“We’ve had to let Greg Mills go. He’s done very well but if a player isn’t going to strengthen the squad then unfortunately we have to say goodbye.”

Cards travel to Carshalton on Saturday before wrapping up their pre-season preparations when Aldershot visit Kingfield on August 4.

Hill said that fans will catch a glimpse of his preferred starting XI before the big kick-off on August 11 and also hinted at the possibility of organising an extra fixture should his side require any additional match practice.

“We you haven’t got the biggest squad at this point in time and we need to make sure we don’t over do it before the start of the season.

“If we play too many games and pick up one or two injuries then all of a sudden we are down on numbers and facing two games a week at the start of the season.

“We are quite happy with three weeks and three games to go in pre-season but if we feel we need another match in that time we’ll look at the possibility of organising something behind closed doors.”

PROLIFIC - Bradley Bubb averaged just under a goal every other game for Farnborough

PROLIFIC – Bradley Bubb averaged just under a goal every other game for Farnborough

THE foundations for Bradley Bubb’s loan switch to Kingfield were laid more than a year ago, according to the striker.

Bubb briefly crossed Garry Hill’s path during a three year spell at Farnborough and claimed the Woking chief predicted a future move to Kingfield in the summer of 2011.

He said: “I met the manager a number of times when I was at Farnborough and he said that he would get me one day – now he has. It’s going to be great to play under Garry.”

I’ve got a bit of pace, strength and hopefully they’ll help me get the goals needed to push the team forward

The 24-year-old hitman joins Woking on a season-long loan from Aldershot and hopes to make a big impact after impressing in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to a QPR select XI.

Bubb added: “I’m always looking forward to playing games and the conference premier is a good level – Woking are a good team and we’ll have to see what happens during the season.

“I’ve got a bit of pace, strength and hopefully they’ll help me get the goals needed to push the team forward.

“Garry has told me he wants to play a 4-3-3 set up which suits me because I can play anywhere across the front line. I can cut in from the left, cut in from the right and enjoy playing nice football.

“There are a couple of young players coming in and with one or two new faces I think the team will be ready for next season – I can’t wait to get going.”

Capped eight times by Grenada, Bubb’s prolific record in the depths of non-league earned him a contract with Farnborough in 2009.

During his time at Cherrywood Road he averaged just under a goal every other game and was influential in Boro’s play-off semi-final victory over Woking.

His impressive goals to game ratio secured him a move to Aldershot and the Football League just a month later.

But after failing to find the net in nine appearances for the Shots, he was loaned out to Basingstoke and subsequently to Ian Baird’s Eastleigh.

The striker recaptured his potency in front of goal to net 10 times in 18 appearances for the Spitfires and claimed the Blue Square South player of the month award for February 2012.

Of his new forward, who is committed to the Cards for the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign, Hill said: “I’ve got a lot of admiration for Bradley – he has a lot to offer.

“He is very sharp and strong and at this level of football he gives us great options across the front line, I’m very pleased he will be with us next season.”

DELIGHTED - Garry Hill with Steve Thompson

DELIGHTED – Garry Hill with Steve Thompson

GARRY HILL has expressed his delight at securing the services of Mike Cestor and Lee Sawyer.

The duo were unveiled by the club ahead of Saturday’s pre-season clash with a QPR select XI at Kingfield.

Cestor, 20, joins the club on a permanent basis having played a leading role in Woking’s title-winning season last term.

While Sawyer, 22, offers a wealth of potential having learnt his trade at Chelsea before enjoying spells with Wycombe, Barnet and Southend.

With a little under four weeks to go until the opening day trip to Wrexham, Hill spoke with pride at how Woking’s pre-season has unfolded thus far.

Everyone is walking around excited about the future and that makes me very proud as a manager

He said: “On and off the pitch the club is making great strides and that is down to the hard work from the boardroom down to the fans.

“We are trying to fetch back the days of brightness at Woking and our intentions are to bring stability and structure to Kingfield.

“A certain amount of players have departed over the summer months, some through work commitments whilst others have chased opportunities elsewhere.

“With Jack King heading to Preston and Paris Cowan-Hall moving to Plymouth we’ve had to start to plan for the future and build going forward. We’ve been very happy with the signings we’ve made so far.

“Lee and Mike add to Loick, Brett and Jack, and as you can see we are trying to build a young, hungry side who are committed to this club for the right reasons.

“That means they want to play for Woking Football Club with the view of progressing in their own careers in the Blue Square Premier.

“I don’t like to comment on previous managers or players but myself and Steve Thompson and the directors are trying to install a professional approach at the football club.

“We are fully aware of our position financially and that we are in a building process at the moment.

“We’ve all got our heads down on the pitch and we are all smiling off of it – there is certainly a buzz around the football club right now.

“Everyone is walking around excited about the future and that makes me very proud as a manager.”

Though Hill admitted his midfield and attacking options needed greater depth, he conceded that the acquisition of Cestor had all but completed his defensive jigsaw.

“Mike came here on loan from Leyton Orient and enjoyed his time with Woking. On and off the field he played his part and was made very welcome at the club, without a doubt he is a player we have bee monitoring over the summer months.

“Steve Thompson has been in contact with him quite a bit and I’m delighted that Mike enjoyed his stay and I think the brand of football played in the Blue Square Premier excited him.

“He knows the surroundings, gives us options with his mobility, he’s at the right age and he is definitely going to be an asset to the club going forward.”

Sawyer is the first Woking trialist to land a contract and his new manager believes he has all attributes to become a fan favourite.

“I think Lee has a great deal of potential. He’s a player that likes to get on the ball and express himself in the right areas of the field and he gives us a little bit of creativity up the pitch.

“At 22, he’s had a very good upbringing starting at Chelsea before playing in the Football League for Wycombe, Barnet and Southend – there is quality behind the lad’s development.

“Lee has had to weigh his options up and after a meeting and a chat after Crawley and I believe he’ll play a big part in the next few months and into the new season.”

CAPTAIN'S SHIFT - Mark Ricketts was deployed just in front of the back four

CAPTAIN’S SHIFT – Mark Ricketts was deployed just in front of the back four

TINKERING Garry Hill toppled League One Crawley with a new-look formation he hopes will serve the club well next season.

The Cards lined up in a versatile 4-1-4-1 system against their Football League guests, with captain Mark Ricketts providing defensive cover in front of a rigid back four.

Summer signing Jack Parkinson partnered new recruit Brett Johnson at the heart of Woking’s defence. And the trio’s impressive display helped inject a healthy dose of optimism ahead of the Cards’ clash with a QPR XI on Saturday.

It’s no secret that our midfield and up top are the areas we are now looking to strengthen

Hill admits he still needs to bolster his attacking line-up, but revealed he could have concluded his defensive shopping by the end of the week.

The manager said: “I think during pre-season you have to look at different formations and see what is right going forward.

“I think we have to turn around and respect that we are going to play at a different level and there will be a step-up in quality.

“I think we’ll have to take a view of that and certainly away from home we may have to be a little bit more disciplined than we may have been in the past in the Blue Square South.

“There is a big gulf and that’s why, as you can see already, I’ve topped up our defensive areas.

“It’s not to be negative but to make sure that we’ve an area in our squad that is nearly complete.

“It’s no secret that our midfield and up top are the areas we are now looking to strengthen.

“As you can appreciate I’ve got phone calls going on with players and with clubs, and one or two things are very close.

“After I’ve cleared my head and spoken to Steve Thompson and Geoff Chapple I can have a look at the figures and  go from there.”

Trialist Keiron St Amie won and then missed a first-minute penalty but made amends six minutes later when he latched on to Kyle McFadzean’s loose back-pass and rounded keeper Paul Jones.

Greg Mills did his hopes of landing a contract little harm with an enterprising shift – his direct raids down the left offered Woking a valuable outlet as the game progressed.

Johnson capped a fine display with a tremendous block on the line from Nicky Adams’ low shot and Hill was pleased with the way his side rose to meet the challenge.

He also believes the club will be more active in the transfer market as the start of the season creeps into view.

“We had a very good workout and played with an excellent spirit – I appreciate Crawley coming down and doing that for us.

“When we didn’t have the ball we had to keep our shape. We didn’t give away cheap free-kicks which was pleasing and it was nice to get some of the younger boys involved. We are a football club that is building for the future.

“In midfield we need to be more creative and we need to look at players in the wide positions and up top – we’ve got options but we haven’t got enough.”

DELIGHTED  - Brett Johnson is looking forward to a successful future with Woking

DELIGHTED – Brett Johnson is looking forward to a successful future with Woking

BRETT JOHNSON wasted little time talking up his new club after he become Garry Hill’s third signing of the summer.

The former AFC Wimbledon and Brentford defender signed a pre-contract agreement with the Cards on Friday, and will join the champions on August 1.

The 26-year-old can play either at a centre-half or left full-back and offers Hill and assistant Steve Thompson a wealth of Blue Square Premier experience.

He made 77 appearances for AFC in a four year spell and helped the club to a dramatic play-off final win in 2011 securing Terry Brown’s side a place in the Football League.

There’s no point staying in the same place and becoming stagnant

Johnson played 45 minutes in Woking’s first pre-season game of the summer which ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Combined Counties Premier Division outfit Windsor.

But he remains adamant the Cards are moving in the right direction.

He said: “I know Garry Hill and I know what he has done previously for non-league clubs.

“He’s got a great history on that front with winning promotion and I always want to be part of squad that is progressing – there’s no point staying in the same place and becoming stagnant.

“I wanted to join a club that was looking to progress and Woking have a good platform to build from coming off the back of a title-winning season in the Blue Square South.

“The majority of the boys here have been kept on and there is a good feeling around the place, I’m looking to progress with Woking.

“After I spoke to Garry the decision became very simple. Other clubs made offers but I’ve played against Woking before and I’ve always enjoyed playing at Kingfield so I was pleased to take on this new challenge.”

Johnson is also looking forward to a reunion with a handful of former team-mates now scattered across the Blue Square Premier.

He insists the opportunity to get one over on old friends will help drive him toward success in the coming season.

“There are a few ex-Wimbledon players in the league so I’m looking out for the games with Grimsby, Cambridge, Newport and Macclesfield.

“There will be quite a few familiar faces in those fixtures so I’ll have to make sure we win those.”

SCORCHER - Woking star Sole has his sights set on the Dragons

SCORCHER – Woking star Sole has his sights set on the Dragons

WOKING kick-off life back in the Blue Square Premier with a glamorous trip to promotion hopefuls Wrexham, but record-breaking striker Giuseppe Sole insists the only thing occupying his mind this summer is getting back on the goal trail.

Cards visit the Racecourse Ground on the opening day of the 2012-13 campaign (Saturday, August 11) before hosting play-off winners Dartford at Kingfield three days later.

But Sole, who finished top of the club’s goal scoring charts as Woking sealed a long-awaited return to the top-tier of non-league football last season, has revealed the Cards camp is firmly focused on their own preparations and making sure they are full equipped to slay the Dragons next month.

He said: “Steve Thompson was brilliant in last year’s pre-season. We worked hard and did a huge amount of running drills but we also did a lot of work with the ball – I can’t wait to get back into it.

“We want to hit the ground running and hopefully the friendlies we’ve got lined up against higher division opposition will prepare us for that.

Luton are favourites for the league and it will be a great experience to come up against them and see how we measure up

“We’ll all be looking to test ourselves against the best players out there and hopefully I can pull on my scoring boots ahead of the new season.

“Last season ended at the worst possible time for me but that’s the way football goes sometimes.

“But I’m more than happy with what I achieved with Woking last season and I’m looking to carry that forward into the first game with Wrexham.”

Wrexham were beaten play-off semi-finalists last term and Sole knows Woking will need adjust quickly to life in the Blue Square Premier if they are to build on last season’s success.

He added: “Wrexham are going to be one of the favourites and it’s going to be great to start the season against one of the big teams.

“They finished strongly last year and they’ll be up there again trying to win promotion but I’m really excited to be playing at a ground I’ve never played at before.

“Dartford at home in the second fixture will be an interesting one, they chased us all the way last season and they’ll want to get one over on us.

“I’m sure everyone will be just as hungry as we are to get off to a good start and it will be interesting to see what sort of side they’ve assembled over the summer.”

Stand out fixtures include a Boxing Day trip to Luton before the title favourites visit Kingfield on January 1 for an immediate return clash.

Sole reckons a bumper festive gate could leave Woking full of Christmas cheer.

He said: “I went to Luton with Newport a few years ago and they had a crowd of around 7,000 on a Tuesday night.

“God knows how many they’ll have there on Boxing Day and obviously at Kingfield on New Year’s day there’ll be another huge turnout.

“They are favourites for the league and it will be a great experience to come up against them and see how we measure up.”

The full fixture list is as follows:

August 2012
Sat 11           Wrexham  (a)
Tue 14          DARTFORD (h)
Sat 18           BARROW (h)
Sat 25          Forest Green Rovers (a)
Tue 28         BRAINTREE (h)

September 2012
Sat 1             Mansfield Town (a)
Tue 4           Hereford United (a)
Sat 8            NUNEATON (h)
Sat 15          Stockport County (a)
Sat 22         GATESHEAD (h)
Tue 25        Ebbsfleet United (a)
Sat 29         TAMWORTH (h)

October 2012
Sat 6            AFC Telford United (a)
Tue 9          CAMBRIDGE UNITED (h)
Sat 13         SOUTHPORT (h)
Sat 20        FA Cup  4th qualifying round tbc
Sat 27        Newport County (a)

November 2012
Tue 6        KIDDERMINSTER (h)
Sat 10      Grimsby Town (a)
Sat 17      ALFRETON TOWN (h)
Sat 24      FA Trophy 1st round tbc

December 2012
Sat 1             Hyde (a)
Tue 4           Lincoln City (a)
Sat 8            STOCKPORT COUNTY (h)
Sat 22         FOREST GREEN ROVERS (h)
Wed 26      Luton Town (a)
Sat 29         Braintree Town (a)

January 2013
Tue 1            LUTON (h)
Sat 5            MANSFIELD (h)
Sat 12          Barrow (a)
Sat 19          Gateshead (a)
Tue 22        NEWPORT COUNTY (h)
Sat 26         Kidderminster Harriers (a)

February 2013
Sat 2            HYDE (h)
Sat 9            Alfreton Town (a)
Tue 12        EBBSFLEET UNITED (h)
Sat 16         GRIMSBY TOWN  (h)
Sat 23         Southport (a)

March 2013
Sat 2           LINCOLN CITY (h)
Sat 9           Cambridge United (a)
Tue 12       Macclesfield Town (a)
Sat 16        AFC TELFORD UNITED (h)
Sat 23        Nuneaton Town (a)
Sat 30       HEREFORD UNITED (h)

April 2013
Mon 1         Dartford (a)
Sat 6           WREXHAM (h)
Sat 13         MACCLESFIELD TOWN (h)
Sat 20         Tamworth (a)

JOKER OF THE PACK - Adam Doyle predicts a rough ride when he reports back for pre-season training

JOKER OF THE PACK – Adam Doyle predicts a rough ride when he reports back for pre-season training

ADAM DOYLE is dreading the start of pre-season training.

Kingfield’s resident joker was one of the first to pen a new deal with the champions back in May, but has cast major doubts over his own fitness after a month of indulgence away from football.

The centre-back said: “I’m not looking forward to going back – I love having Saturdays off.

“I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve been keeping myself trim over the summer, I’m a bit like Ricky Hatton between fights.”

Doyle was at the heart of Woking’s double-winning campaign last season and after convincing Garry Hill of his commitment to the Cards, was delighted to put pen to paper on a new contract.

But he added: “I just hope our first game isn’t Barrow away. It’s always exciting to see the fixture list when it’s announced so I can start planning my days off work and get my holiday sorted for those long away trips.

I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve been keeping myself trim over the summer, I’m a bit like Ricky Hatton between fights

“Rightly so the gaffer wanted 100 per cent from everyone. He was aware that it would be difficult for me in the Premier and I just assured him that I can do the travelling and put theeffort in, he was satisfied with that.

“Once that was sorted it was a no-brainer to sign again. It’s the highest level I’ve ever played at, I want to test myself and the manager thinks I’m good enough to at least give it a go so it was an easy decision once the work situation was sorted.

“It’s a bit weird not seeing the lads three or four times a week because I spend a lot of time with them during the season and there is a camaraderie that exists among the players.

“I’ve not completely lost touch with everyone and it will be nice to get back and see the boys, that’s something I am looking forward too!”

Hill recently revealed he is still in the hunt for a new left-back, suggesting Doyle will operate from his favoured central position next season – a prospect the versatile defender is looking forward to.

“I’ve played against the new signings Jack Parkinson and the lad Pires, so I know them vaguely as players and they seem like good lads – it will be great to forge a good relationship with Jack at centre-half.

“It’s an exciting time because they are great players and I think Garry Hill has done very well to snap them up.

“I think he’s quite right not to rush to bring players in, there is plenty of time to do that yet.

“A lot of lads leave it quite late in pre-season to find a club so I’m sure he’ll be bringing in quality as the summer goes on – it’s very exciting.  You saw last season how much the club gelled right from the fans up to those in the boardroom.

“Everyone was pushing in the right direction and I think it showed, especially in

“The whole feel around the club was certainly a lot better than it was the year before.

“That is something the manager and Steve Thompson have brought into the club and players want to play in that kind of environment.”