Bishop Auckland manager, Ian Chandler, has earmarked his squad for the upcoming 2019-20 Ebac Northern League campaign, blending in a mix of youth and experience.
New arrivals to the squad see Leon Carling, Denver Morris and James Fairley bring in experience, the former of the trio shoring up the defence whilst the arrivals of Jamie Tumilty and Jay McLean bring a youthfulness up front.
Tumilty and McLean, alongside Chris Winn, and the attacking midfielders, will provide continued support for captain, and last seasons’ top scorer, Andrew Johnson.
There have also been some high profiles departures, notably Kieran Galbraith, Lewis Gibbons and Arran Wearmouth, alongside several others leaving the club.
“Last year was almost the perfect season following on from a very poor 2017/18 campaign,” said manager, Ian Chandler.
“We had built a new squad of young, hungry lads, with a sprinkling of older members, and that seemed to have worked very well.
“The new season will see us building another new squad with several players having left, all of whom contributed to last season so will be a miss. That said, we welcome on board some familiar faces.
“Expectations are now extremely high after finishing third last season, but, in simple terms, I always try and do better than the previous year.
“I do see a lot of teams spending big money and bringing in a number of high profile players, or should that be players from a higher leagues, who maybe won’t appreciate the level of the Northern League.
“Regardless of who we play against, we will compete and see how things go throughout the season.”
While continued progress is the main aim, changes to promotion mean that three clubs will be automatically promoted this season, so a similar finish to last season will mean moving up a division.
The Two Blues have lined up ten, primarily local, pre-season friendly matches which will see Darlington (July 15th), Middlesbrough U23s (July 20th), and Sunderland U23s (August 1st) bring sides to Heritage Park for prestige friendlies as well as a local fundraiser against old rivals Willington on July 18th.
Billed as A Fundraiser for Richard, the sides will meet to raise funds towards the neuro-rehabilitation of former Bishops and current Willington chairman, Richard Tremewan, who suffered a stroke earlier this year.
Bishops Chairman, Steve Coulthard, added: “We’re really looking forward to this season with a number of new players arriving and contending for slots in the team on top of those staying so there is a real competition for places.
“Ian inherited a few players at the beginning of last season, but this time around he’s freshened the squad up with players of his own choice and, after a good season last season where we finished third, we are hoping we can go one better and gain promotion.”
Bishop Auckland open the new season on August 3rd when they make the trip across the Pennines to visit Penrith at the Frenchfield Stadium.