Morecambe start their on-field preparations for the new season at Bamber Bridge tonight hoping it will be the prelude to a less stressful campaign this time around.
This time last year, the Shrimps began their build-up to the 2016/17 League Two season with a 3-0 victory at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
Alex Kenyon’s deflected cross and Cole Stockton’s late double earned victory on a night when Shrimps’ boss Jim Bentley fielded eight trialists.
Among them were Michael Rose, Alex Whitmore and Danijel Nizic, all of whom did enough for permanent or loan moves while others, such as Ryan Croasdale, Deane Smalley and Dan Agyei, failed to impress.
Victory was the starting point for an eventful season on and off the pitch with the club’s ownership a matter of constant debate, players and staff paid late, a threadbare squad, top-of-the-table form and a club record seven straight home league losses.
This time around, Bentley’s squad has a much more settled look about it with a number of players signing new deals and new arrivals including Garry Thompson, Vadaine Oliver, Adam Campbell, Patrick Brough and Doncaster Rovers loanee Mitchell Lund.
Consequently, it means the number of trialists featuring tonight is unlikely to total eight - though it doesn’t mean Bentley has stopped looking for fresh blood.
Far from it; Whitmore’s return to parent club Burnley, Ryan Edwards’ departure for Plymouth Argyle and the departures of Liam Wakefield and Lee Molyneux leave the Shrimps’ defensive options on the thin side.
“It has been a tough summer and there have been lots and lots of phone calls but things are looking pretty good now,” Bentley said.
“We have brought in some good players and we are still looking hard to bring in more before the season starts.
“Defence is definitely the priority and I would like another front man in the squad but we will see what happens.
“The lads have come back in good spirits and are looking fresh and sharp and all the new boys are settling in really well.
“The spirit is there already and we are all looking forward to the friendly games and getting back into action.
“We have a good set of pre-season games that will provide us with good tests and we are looking forward to them.”