John Ward is looking for all his players to step up and try and prove themselves now that pre-season has started.
He says that he views all his players equally and the younger lads have a great chance to push for a first team place.
He said: “We have everybody back in good condition, which is good. I like to get the ball out quickly, and games start within a couple of weeks.
“There is an opportunity for the younger lads, they are not what I call young kids anymore, they have to come out and push for the first team.
“They are not just here to make numbers up, and they have come back in a very determined mood. The squad is settled and it gives everybody an opportunity.”
One such player is Shaquille Hunter. John said: “Shaqs wasn’t ready last year to be around the senior group, but he played a bit part in the junior side that won competitions.
“He comes well recommended to me and he has a job on his hands. He certainly has the ability, he just needs the desire to push and put that together.
“We have 20 odd boys in the squad, and over half of them are under 21. The senior boys have a major part to play in developing this group and pushing the team along.”
And with Matt Harrold and David Clarkson back in training and Matt Gill not far behind, the injury list is finally shrinking.
John said: “Matt Gill is within three weeks of joining the group, which will give him some catching up to do, but everything is going really well for him.
“Garry Kenneth still has rehab work to do, the process with the cruciate is a nine month recovery period.
“The injured players are getting to the stage now where they think they can do more and we have to put the reins on. They are working hard, and are in good shape, and we will get them in when the time is right.”
And in terms of comings and goings, John is still talking to John-Joe O’Toole’s agent, but confirms that he has not had any interest in any of his own players.
He said: “I am in constant chats with John-Joe’s agent and everyone knows the situation. I am trying to do it, and there is no secret about that.
“There has been no interest in any of my players. We have a very settled squad, and the group is very much together. I certainly wouldn’t want to lose anybody at this moment in time.”