Chester FC boss Jon McCarthy reckons a front two of James Alabi and Kane Richards can cause havoc in the National League next season - but admits the pair will need to believe it too.
Alabi and Richards impressed as a partnership towards the end of the 2015-16 campaign and have struck up a close bond with the former consulting his team-mate before agreeing a new 12-month deal this week .
Richards signed on last week and McCarthy plans to work closely with the duo, both 21, in pre-season to help them fulfill their potential.
He said: “James and Kane were exciting to watch at the back end of the season and in pre-season I want them to think as much about themselves as I think about them.
“Why shouldn’t other teams be worried about Kane’s pace and the strength of James? We’ve got to make them realise that and I think we can do part of that but the other part has to come from them doing it on the pitch.
“Getting James signed up was a big one for us and I think we got that deal on the back our relationship with him and his relationship with the fans.
“He came in the middle of the season and he scored that special goal against Kidderminster but then I know there were a few questions about him.
“It’s taken a while to understand him and what he’s about, and at the same time we’ve got to remember he’s still a young lad and he’s a long way from his home.
“He had offers from clubs closer to home that probably would have made more financial sense but he likes it at Chester and I think we’ve stolen him a little bit from those other clubs because of that.
“There’s a marriage between him recognising his potential and what he needs to do and us developing that understanding and our relationship so we can get him doing it consistently and if we can then we should enjoy it.”
Alabi and Richards followed Ryan Astles and Luke George in putting pen to paper, taking the squad into double figures with Jon Worsnop, Craig Mahon, Sam Hughes and Tom Shaw already under contract and teenagers Kieran Evans and Matty Waters having signed professional terms.
Offers remain on the table to others including John Rooney, Johnny Hunt, Jordan Chapell and Ryan Higgins, and The Chronicle understands a couple more deals are close to being finalised, although the club’s hopes of keeping England C international Ben Heneghan appear to be fading with Chesterfield and Shrewsbury Town rumoured to be interested in the defender.
With pre-season starting in five weeks McCarthy has spoken to a number of potential new arrivals including a full-back, central defender and striker who operated in the National League last season and a number of promising youngsters at Football League clubs.
Although still to complete his first signing, the 45-year-old is confident of being able to attract quality players to the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium.
He said: “The club is an attractive proposition for players because we’re one of the best supported sides in the division, we’re in a good location with good exposure and we’ve got excellent facilities.
“We’ve also shown that we can give players a platform and an opportunity to make a name for themselves. As a club we’ve a lot to offer to players in terms of development.
“We’ve got a squad of 10 at the moment and I’m hopeful we’ll get that to 13 soon and that will put us in a very good position as we get close to the start of pre-season.”