Giant Morecambe defender Ryan Edwards knows he’ll have a fight on his hands to play week in, week out this season.
The former Blackburn man starred in his first full campaign with The Shrimps but knows competition is tougher than ever all over the pitch as Jim Bentley looks to mastermind a play-off challenge.
The 21-year-old said: “I think the squad’s a lot stronger than last season and we are looking better overall as a team defensively and offensively.
“Everyone can see we’ve got a lot more options in every position.
“Everyone’s fighting for their positions knowing someone is trying to take it off them.
“Beels (Shaun Beeley) was outstanding in every game at right back last season and was the player of the year but Aaron McGowan won’t want to sit on the bench and that’s the case in every position.
“There’s no guarantees and everyone’s got to be on their toes come the Hartlepool game.”
A stronger squad points to an improvement on last season’s 11th-placed finish in League 2.
According to Edwards, the whole dressing room believes a spot in the coveted top seven is a real possibility.
He said: “Apart from one little scare in the season before last we’ve always punched well above our weight.
“We haven’t got the best budget as everyone knows compared to the likes of Portsmouth.
“But there’s always been a good attitude and hunger and this year we don’t just want to prove a few people wrong we want to push ourselves.
“If you look at last season if we can sort our home form and continue how we’ve been playing away then there’s no reason why we can’t be in and around the play-offs.
“It’ll be easier said than done but if you look around the squad, the strength and size of it, everyone believes we can do it.
“If you’ve got that then it’s a good start.”
On a personal level, Edwards is looking to build on a breakthrough season.
He said: “The main thing for me was getting a run of 30-odd games.
“With the loans at Blackburn I just wasn’t getting settled and the gaffer giving me the opportunity here has done me the world of good.
“Hopefully this season I can push on again whether we play three at the back or four.
“I just want to keep getting better and helping the team.”