Chester FC first-team coach Jon McCarthy believes the Blues are in a better position this season to cope with the rigours of the festive football calendar.

The Blues endured a miserable Christmas period last season, with a 2-0 win at FC Halifax Town on December 28 the only bright spot as Chester suffered three defeats in four games having seen their FA Cup adventure ended by Barnsley at the second round stage at the start of the month.

And having seen a threadbare squad stretched to the limit last time around, McCarthy believes that the current Blues side is better equipped to deal with a hectic Christmas period.

Chester host Torquay United on Saturday (3pm) before travelling to Altrincham on Boxing Day. They then welcome Macclesfield Town on Bank Holiday Monday before facing Alty again at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium on Saturday, January 2.

"Last Christmas we had a disappointing time and last Christmas we were struggling in terms of squad," said McCarthy, whose side lost both games in a Christmas double header with Altrincham last season.

Kane Richards rides a challenge in the home defeat by Altrincham on Boxing Day last season
Kane Richards rides a challenge in the home defeat by Altrincham on Boxing Day last season

"We lost loan players and that time and the cup run, that had just come to an end and we lost all the highs of that stuff.

"We were quite threadbare and it's something that we've been aware of and the gaffer has made sure that we have bodies around the place so we're in a position to cope with that."

With a poor run of league form of late having seen the Blues slip to 15 in the Vanarama National League, McCarthy believes the forthcoming games against teams around them in the table offers Chester a real chance to pick up some points and build momentum.

McCarthy said: "People talk about those leagues within leagues and we've hit a group of teams that is the type of teams that we need to take points from. To be fair to us that is something that has happened since we have been here and why the club has stabilised a bit more and pushed to be more of a mid-table team.

"It's an important group of games as we haven't been anywhere near that relegation zone this year and that's a sign of the progress that we have made as a club. But you need to pick up some points from these games, nine or ten points, and you reset again. Can we then put some results together and push on? That's what we're aiming for."