Steve Wilkes has underlined that Padiham Football Club’s 2015/16 term will be a period of ‘transition’ and ‘consolidation’.
The Storks were relegated from the eighth tier of England’s football pyramid last term having spent months at the foot of the Evo-Stik First Division North table.
Now, back in the North West Counties Premier Division, Wilkes is being realistic in terms of expectation following a summer of change at the Arbories.
Brett Ormerod, Mark Sharples, Daley Woods, Danny Wilkins, Dominic Craig, Ben Allen, Tom Murphy, Ashley Young and John Ross have all departed for pastures new.
And that’s left former Preston North End midfielder Wilkes with a hectic period of recruitment.
Striker Kieron Pickup has returned to the club from Bamber Bridge, one-time Clitheroe defender Seydou Bamba has made the short trip from Shawbridge, as has winger Alex Ralph and centre half Lee Botham has joined from Nelson along with full back Josh Walne.
Elsewhere forward Alex Murphy and midfielder Sam Farrow have been acquired from Squires Gate, former Morecambe midfielder Michael West is another addition while former Ramsbottom winger Dominic Slaven rounds off Wilkes’s transfer business.
“We’ve lost some very good players, but we’ve brought some good ones in too,” he said.
“We’re still two or three players short of what we need in my opinion though. There’s been quite an overhaul this summer so we’re in a process of trying to get everyone to gel.
“We are rebuilding and we need to get everyone’s confidence levels back up next season.
“It’s a transitional period. We’ve lost some players to local rivals which is disappointing but money talks. It’s difficult for us to compete on that front.”
Following a disappointing 2-1 defeat to a young Curzon Ashton side in their final pre-season outing, Wilkes added: “We’ll make sure we’re competitive on the pitch and I’ll put 11 players out there who will help the club challenge at this level.
“We’re going to have to rely on some of our youth players this year but there’s some good youngsters at the club.
“This term is all about consolidating. We’re still in shock following relegation.
“Even though we were bottom for quite a while it still hurt when it happened.
“It’s been a tough six or seven weeks but we’ve got a good bunch of lads together and we’ve got a good dressing room.
“It’s going to be difficult but it should be an interesting season. Ideally I want us to go straight back up but we’ve got to be realistic.
“We need to consolidate but a top six finish would be nice as well as some good cup runs.”
Padiham host Bootle tomorrow as the new campaign gets underway, kick off 3 p.m.
The Storks then face a tricky test at Alder House on Monday where they’ll tackle Atherton Collieries with kick off at 7-45 p.m.
The first of the club’s cup ties arrives on Sunday, August 16th, as Padiham face Whickham in the Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round (kick off 3 p.m.).