Teenagers Liam Wales and Ross Bailey are determined to prove they belong in Bury Town’s starting XI after a taste of action last season.
Following a mass exodus of players due to the Blues’ financial problems, winger Wales and central midfielder Bailey were pressed into action earlier in their careers than expected and did not disgrace themselves with a series of solid performances last season.
Wales, who scored four goals in 14 starts and 19 substitute appearances in 2013/14, capped his campaign by coming off the bench in the Suffolk Premier Cup final to net a spectacular goal.
And both Bailey and himself want to show they deserve to be starting matches.
“When I was speaking to Ben (Chenery, interim manager), he was saying he wants me fighting for a starting place,” said 19-year-old Wales. “He believes I’ve got the ability, so I need to prove him right.
“Last season was difficult because I felt like a bit-part player, but I feel I’m good enough to start games and that’s my main aim.”
Both Wales and Bailey — who signed non-contract terms last week — are graduates of West Suffolk College, where they were under the guidance of departed manager Richard Wilkins.
Although the Blues — who are still represented by interim boss Chenery and Team Bury chief Ross Wilding at the college — have lost Wilkins, as well as captain Tom Bullard, Wales believes the new-look squad can overcome this.
“Losing them was a blow, but it won’t hold us back,” he added. “I feel like we are going to push on.”
Bailey, who turns 20 in September, is one of those looking for an even better campaign when the new Ryman League Premier Division season gets under way on Saturday, August 9.
“I’m hoping to kick on and try to improve from last year,” he said. “I’d like to start more games and score a couple more goals. When I spoke to Cheners, he said he’s hoping for a big year from me.
“Last year, Liam and I felt even if we did well we weren’t guaranteed a starting place, but Cheners has said that if we play well then there is no reason we can’t keep the shirt.
“The squad is going to be young and most of the players are hungry for success, so I think it will work well.”
Bailey made 23 starts and nine substitute appearances for the Blues last season, scoring two goals in the process — both in April.