WHITCHURCH Alport boss Luke Goddard is doing all he can to ensure he enters the new league campaign with a fully-fit squad.

The Reds only have Abbey Hulton United remaining in their list of pre-season fixtures, after matches recently with sides including Altrincham and Crewe Alexandra.

They will then get their season underway on Saturday, August 3 when they travel to take on Northwich Victoria.

Goddard insists he is unlikely to risk players for any longer than he needs to against Abbey Hulton.

He said: “We’ve got a large enough squad to cope with a friendly like this one but we won’t be going full strength.

“It’s important to give as many players as possible the chance to get 90 minutes under their belts so we’ll be rotating in the same fashion as we have done in our other pre-season matches.

“We’ve seen how comfortable some of the younger players have looked and they certainly haven’t disgraced themselves against players who’ve been playing men’s football for years.

“Obviously, they won’t get the same kind of treatment in the Premier Division, but we have shown in previous years that if players are good enough, then they are old enough.”

Alport will be without skipper Darren Campion for the opening four fixtures of the campaign, and midfielder Dylan Bath for three games through suspension after both were sent off in the penultimate game of last season at 1874 Northwich.

“It’s obviously disappointing to be without two influential players for the opening matches,” said Goddard.

“We have a number of options available to us and with the emergence of Blake (Robinson) playing deeper just in front of the back four, we have someone who can carry the ball out of defence and use it well.

“He has looked really comfortable each time he’s played and is a great signing for us.”

Alport drew 2-2 against Mid-Cheshire League side Crewe FC on Saturday and the Reds’ boss was delighted to have got another test against his young charges.

“In the second half we saw the likes of Walley, Dunn, O’Connor and Wash who all acquitted themselves really well,” he said.

“On top of that we saw what a terrific prospect young goalkeeper Jack Atkinson is, and I have no doubt that he will go far in the game. He will open the season as our number one goalkeeper with Dave Parton away on honeymoon.

“Jack is a terrific organiser and is constantly talking to his defenders.

“We are really lucky to have two fantastic goalkeepers at the club, although I wouldn’t expect either to stick around as our number two keeper.

“We are not at that point yet and so will cross that bridge when it comes.”

Some supporters might have been disappointed not to see their side record a comfortable victory.

“I think a few went away from here on Saturday a bit deflated because we could only manage a draw,” said Goddard. “But Crewe came with a gameplan to frustrate us and were happy to defend in numbers.

“That’s something we’ll have to contend with once the season is underway, so from that perspective the friendly worked out really well for us.

“I’d ask our fans to stay patient because last season I felt our game was too long at times, with aimless punts from the back just handing the ball to our opposition.

“This time around we’ll be far less careless, and we know that our ball retention will be much better.”

Alport take on Abbey Hulton United away on Friday, July 26 (7.45pm).