EASTWOOD Town assistant boss Darren Kelk says the team spirit in the Badgers squad is coming together at just the right time.
The new Evo-Stik Premier Division campaign begins a week on Saturday at Marine and Eastwood will visit Carlton Town this weekend in their final pre-season friendly.
And after what has been a mixed month of preparation so far, Kelk has been pleased with the way things have begun to look brighter.
He said: “There’s a lot more togetherness about the squad now we’ve got it down to a more manageable number and everybody is getting more familiar with one another.
“They’re a lot more settled now they know they’re the ones that the first squad of 16 at Marine will come from, which has reflected in some of the recent games.”
Eastwood lost 1-0 at home to Hucknall Town on Saturday but followed that up with a 5-0 demolition of Gresley FC on Tuesday night.
Two of the goals came from Paris Simmons, who has signed non-contract terms to join the team his younger brother Gregg already represents, and who Kelk feels will be a valuable asset once match fit.
“Paris oozes the quality you’d expect from someone with his pedigree, but he not only needs to get his fitness back to the right level but also his love for the game, as for whatever reason he’s struggled to get settled anywhere more recently,” he said.
“But he got 45 minutes against Gresley and we’ll put him on a special fitness programme to get him ready. He scored two wonder goals on Tuesday and at his best will be a great player to have at our disposal.”
Kelk was pleased with the response from his team at Gresley following Saturday’s defeat, with the ruthlessness shown something he was keen to see beforehand.
He added: “I was delighted for the players as it’s been a pretty intense few weeks but the results are starting to show.
“Against Hucknall on Saturday I couldn’t believe we didn’t score given the chances we created, but we certainly put that right at Gresley.”
Attention now turns to Saturday’s trip to Division One South side Carlton, with Kelk, who remains in charge while boss John Ramshaw coaches in the USA, keen to play as strong a side as he can.
“At Gresley we had a very depleted team due to injuries and work commitments, so much so that we had striker TJ Nightingale playing in defence for the second-half,” he said.
“It’s hard to call the Carlton game a dress rehearsal for Marine as such because I think the quality between the two divisions is immense, although Carlton obviously came very close to being promoted last year.
“But I’m adamant that while this will be toughest friendly yet, with the squad we have we should win the game.
“I’m waiting on the medics to give their assessments on one or two players but hopefully we’ll have a strong side available.”
“John and I are pleased with the squad assembled and the players are responding well. Momentum will count for a lot which is why Tuesday’s win was important.
“But while I have a team in mind already for Marine, there are still places very much up for grabs and these players need to show me they want to be included in that opening game.”