Lancaster City boss pleased with pre-season progress

Phil Brown looks on as Patrick Brough and Andy Haworth battle for the ball on Saturday.
Phil Brown looks on as Patrick Brough and Andy Haworth battle for the ball on Saturday.
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Lancaster City boss Phil Brown is delighted with his side’s progress in the early part of pre-season.

Fresh from their Evo-Stik First Division North title triumph, the Dolly Blues returned to training on July 1 with six new signings in their ranks.

Two friendlies have followed, a defeat to Morecambe on Saturday and a win over Nelson on Tuesday night, and Brown believes things are looking up.

“Looking at the bigger picture I’m really pleased to be honest,” said the City boss.

“Everything seems to be going well.

“You’re always going to have one or two missing at this time of year but we’ve had good numbers at training and the atmosphere has been brilliant and the application first class.

“We’re not where we need to be come August 12 but we’re miles further down the line than we were last year which we need to be because we’ll be playing at a higher level.”

The build-up to life in the Premier Division continues when an Isle of Man 
representative XI come to Giant Axe on Saturday, kick-off 2pm. The game is part of a link-up being developed by City chief executive Lawrence Looney who is based on the island.

“I don’t know a lot about them but have been told they’re a decent team,” said Brown.

“The under 18s came over last year and footballed our under 21s to death.

“It should be a good test and it could be they’ve got players that want to come and play over the water.

“I’m open to that and we’ll have to see how it goes.”

It remains to be seen whether winger Andy Haworth will feature on Saturday, the former Barrow man having played against Morecambe.

The 28-year-old wants to play as high as possible however and featured for Southport on Tuesday night in their 0-0 draw with Wigan.

“He’s been in full-time football and is looking to secure himself a deal,” said Brown.

“Who knows what might happen? But at this moment in time it’s more a case of us doing him a favour.

“He’s enjoying it though.

“He played for us when he could have played for other teams but don’t be surprised to see him turn up elsewhere during pre-season.

“He’s a player we’d love to have but we’ve got to be realistic about the situation.”

Leon Creech is another player who has featured on a trial basis, the former Preston North End youngster able to play anywhere down the right-hand side.

“It’s about giving Leon an opportunity to have a look at a different type of football,” said Brown.

“He’s come out of a youth set-up and we told him to come here and enjoy himself.

“He’s played in the two games and has a bit of a break planned now.

“We’ll see how things are when he comes back. He’s not signed, we’re just having a look at him and he’s having a look at us.”

Brown also has a decision to make when it comes to goalkeepers.

Josh Powell, formerly with the City boss at Myerscough College, has linked up with the Dolly Blues for pre-season having left Blackburn.

He has got his chance to impress alongside new recruit Chris Cheetham as Luke Raybould battles an ankle injury.

“I’ve known Josh for a long time, since he was 16,” said Brown.

“He was at Myerscough and then went to Academica in Portugal before coming back and being in and around Blackburn’s Under 23s.

“We’ll see how things go, he’s been involved in both games because Luke’s had a bit of an ankle problem.

“We’ve got three good keepers and we’ll see how things pan out.

“There was a big deep breath when Mike Hale left but I’ve no major concerns in that department now.”

Striker Tom Woods will not be returning to Giant Axe despite featuring in the friendly with Morecambe.