Morecambe boss Jim Bentley believes pundits shouldn’t write off Lancashire rivals Accrington Stanley despite the loss of several key players.
John Coleman’s men agonisingly missed out on promotion last year with Matt Crooks and Josh Windass, who joined Rangers, and Piero Mingoia, who left for fellow League Two side Cambridge United, amongst the summer departures.
There have been plenty of changes at the Wham Stadium but Bentley believes Stanley have enough to challenge again.
The Shrimps boss said: “They had great players last year in the likes of Windass, Crooks and Mingoia who have gone onto other clubs.
“But he’s (Coleman) brought in good replacements.
“They’ve been a little bit up and down with the league form but they’ve got quality in depth.
“Billy Kee was one of the best leading the line last season I thought, a target man with a good goal return.
“There’s good players throughout the team to be fair.
“They’ve been taken over, they’re ambitious and they’ve got plans off the pitch and on the pitch.”
Despite being fierce rivals on match days, the clubs are to a degree kindred spirits, battling against the odds every season.
Bentley said: “It would be nice to see ourselves and Accrington have successful seasons, after Saturday obviously.
“We get written off every season as the small northern clubs and the two smallest clubs in League Two.
“But Accrington are coming off the back of a good season so people are looking at them to do well again.
“Obviously we’ve come off the back of a disappointing season but we want to improve.”
The Shrimps finally beat Stanley in the Football League at the 17th attempt 12 months ago.
Having made a flying start to the season, with three straight wins seeing Morecambe top of the League Two table, and coming off the back of an impressive performance in defeat to Bournemouth in the EFL Cup, Bentley is confident his side can get a positive result.
He said: “The results hadn’t been great until last year when we got four points, with a win at home and drawing away.
“Fair play to them. Coley’s done a great job, they had a fantastic season last season and I was gutted for them when they didn’t go up on the last day.
“Then obviously they lost to Wimbledon in the play-offs.
“They’ve got good players and they’re always tasty encounters.
“We’re in decent form in the league this year and we’re going there full of confidence on the back of a good performance on Wednesday night against Bournemouth.
“We need take something from that into Saturday.”