Ciaran Toner wants Gainsborough Trinity to rise to the challenge of competing in the Conference North this season.
The 33-year-old Northern Ireland international has signed on again at The Northolme after being impressed by the ambition of the club and it’s manager Steve Housham.
And he wants the players in the squad to respond to that and prove some doubters wrong this year.
“I have no plans to be involved in another relegation dogfight this season but I know that will be the challenge for us in this league,” he said.
“There will be some who will have already written us off because our budget is not that of some of the others in this league.”
“But that’s the challenge for us, to match and get alongside or even above some those sides and finish higher up the league.”
Toner came to Trinity in the early part of last season and says the relationship he has with Housham and the board was one of the reasons he wanted to stay.
“I like the fact the manager is very receptive to ideas and input from senior players like myself and that helps create a strong team ethic,” he continued.
“We have a good crop of players signed on now and we’re looking to add others to that before the start of the season.”
As well as having good players, Toner knows competition for places in the team will be key to helping Gainsborough beat the financial odds and beat sides in what he sees as a tough league this season.
“I didn’t think the league was that great last year but this year it is looking very tough,” he said.
“There will be some sides who dominate, mainly the ones with the bigger budgets who can get in the better players.”
“We don’t have that sort of budget at Gainsborough so to counter that, we need to have a squad where everyone knows they need to play at their best every week to keep their places in the team.”
“It’s not like needing to sharpen players up or have them constantly looking over their shoulders, but just creating that knowledge that if they don’t go out there and perform to their very best, then there will be someone there waiting to take their place.”
“If we can respond to that and rise to the challenge that will pose, then we can start beating and surprising some sides in the league this season and finish higher than we did last year.”