PROMOTION back to the premier division will be Denton Town’s sole goal when they kick off their new Cheshire League campaign on Saturday (July 31) with a home game against Holmes Chapel.
After being relegated to the first division in 2019, Town’s hopes of regaining their top-flight status have been dashed by Covid-19 in each of the last two seasons.
Though last season resumed, and Town were eventually runners-up when the season ended belatedly on June 12, they remained in the first division.
After the shortest pre-season ever – only three weeks – Town were back preparing for the 2021-22 season.
Joint manager Phill Cooper admitted it has been a challenge for the players carrying injuries and trying to accommodate holiday.
He said: “Players would normally have two months to get over knocks, so it has been tough.
“But on a positive note, having only three weeks off, the players did not lose match sharpness so have been able to hit the ground running.”
Town have re-signed 11 players, the core of last season’s successful squad.
The players returning are goalkeeper Phil Pole, defenders Cole McGrath, Josh Stachini and Joe Hare, midfielders Lewis Loughman, Phil Yuille and Aaron Clayton, wingers Mauro Mendes and Harry Rowan and strikers Caylem Bateson and Shaq Lewys.
Cooper added another half dozen players are expected to remain while he is looking to make two or three additions. The only players to leave are Ian Turner through injury and Tom Beswick who has decided to move on.
He is delighted to have retained the core of last season’s squad which ensures continuity.
Cooper continued: “Stability is half the battle at our level, and we have been lucky to keep most of our players.
“We have some very good players and clubs have been sniffing around two or three of them which was a nightmare.
“The good news is that they have decided to stay.
“Sometimes we have had between 10 and 12 trialists pre-season, but we haven’t needed to do that this season with so many players staying.
“We have just been able to target lads who we believe will improve us.”
Cooper added he has two or three players lined up, but the transfers are not yet over the line.
He has been pleased with pre-season which saw a crazy 6-5 win against Dukinfield Town, 4-0 victory against Stretford Paddock and draws against North West Counties League sides Maine Road and Wythenshawe Town.
Town, whose long-term ambition is to get into the NWCL, are at home to Styal on Wednesday, August 4, but have yet to receive a full fixture list.