Tom Shaw believes that team spirit can carry Chester FC a long way this season.
The Blues begin their National League campaign away at Gateshead on Saturday (3pm) following a gruelling pre-season schedule.
With nine new players joining the Blues ranks during the summer, Shaw, who signed for Chester last summer from Alfreton Town on a two-year contract, says that a bond has already been forged at the club.
And with Chester not fancied by many outsiders to be challenging in the upper echelons of the league during the campaign, midfielder Shaw says that spirit will be crucial.
“Obviously we have had some new faces come into the club and the manager and Sharpy (assistant manager Ian Sharps) have worked really hard to try and integrate them, which has gone well,” said Shaw, who made 45 appearances for the Blues last season and netted four goals.
“There is a great spirit already and I think that comes from the environment that has been set by the management team and I think that everybody has clicked as a group. That spirit can win you a few points when the chips are down if you have got that togetherness.”
“Everybody is ambitious. We haven’t set any goals as such but we are an ambitious group of mainly young players and the management team and the club are very ambitious so we just want to get some points on the board early on and see where it takes us, but I think we have the makings of a good team.”
At just 29, Nottingham born Shaw is the third oldest in what is a young Blues squad with only goalkeeper Jon Worsnop (33) and defender Evan Horwood (30) older than him.
And having enjoyed a 10-year career as a professional, taking in spells with the likes of Rushden & Diamonds, Kidderminster Harriers and Cambridge United, Blues boss Jon McCarthy has looked to Shaw to help guide his young troops and set the standard.
But Shaw isn’t fazed at being one of the elder statesmen in the group and is keen to pass on some of his experience to the squad to aid them in their quest this season.
He said: “My wife has been telling me to grow up for about 10 years so it is time for my career to take that role as a leader and the manager has asked me to do that within the squad and try and set standards for the group.
“Everyody can see that there are some exciting young players that are in the squad and if I can pass on some knowledge and experience then that can only help.”
“I can’t wait to get started. This is season number 14 for me now and I’m really looking forward to it. Everyone has a spring in their step and fingers crossed for a really good season.”