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WATCH: Chester FC start pre-season training ahead of the 2015-16 campaign

New-look squad comes together for the first time as the Blues get down to work at the Field of Dreams

Preparations for the 2015-16 Vanarama National League campaign began in earnest this morning as Chester FC reported back for pre-season training.

Steve Burr and his right-hand man Jon McCarthy welcomed back those players returning from last season along with the six summer signings and a handful of trialists hoping to impress the Blues boss.

The club have again been granted access to the excellent Field of Dreams facility on Chester Business Park belonging to main sponsors MBNA.

Once the players had completed fitness checks with the medical staff, the squad gathered together for a meeting where the management team spelled out the aims and expectation for the season ahead.

Burr made it clear his target was to better last season's 12th-place finish and told the players that although divisional rivals might have much bigger budgets, he believes Chester are a big club and have nothing to fear.

IN PICTURES: The Blues report back for pre-season training

Burr told The Chronicle he was pleased with the squad he had assembled and looking forward to working with them over the next five weeks before the opening game on August 8 when Braintree Town visit the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium .

Burr said: "I always look forward to it. It's the first day back in with the lads and I'm looking forward to getting in amongst the new boys and obviously the ones we've managed to keep from last season.

"The pre-season is all about gearing ourselves up, not just for the first game but the season ahead.

"If we get a good pre-season under our belt then I always think that holds players in good stead for that sustained, long season that we have."

Retained from last season are goalkeeper Jon Worsnop, defenders Ben Heneghan, Michael Kay and Ryan Higgins, midfielders Craig Mahon, John Rooney, and forwards Craig Hobson, George Thomson and Tom Peers.

Kane Richards returns to the fold having ended the 2014-15 campaign on loan to former club Ilkeston but there was no sign of wantaway midfielder Kingsley James, a target for FC Halifax Town.

New signings Ian Sharps, Johnny Hunt, Jordan Chapell, Luke George, Ross Hannah and Tom Shaw linked up with the squad for the first time as did a handful of last season's youth team.

A number of trialists, including an experienced defender and a goalkeeper from the National League North, will be hoping to make an impression on the manager before the first pre-season game at home to Oldham Athletic on Saturday (3pm).

Burr said: "The new boys are in and they'll be meeting up with the lads that were here last season and we've got one or trialists that we're going to be looking at as well so it's always an interesting time at this time of the season.

"I like it when the games arrive because it gives us chance to have a look at one or two players and obviously the trialists and see how the new boys fit in."

IN PICTURES: The Blues training base at MBNA headquarters


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
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