CHORLEY FC boss Matt Jansen believes the Vanarama Conference North is going to be a “tough league” this season but is confident his side will be ready.

The countdown is on clock is ticking down until the Magpies kick-start their season with a mouth-watering opening day encounter with FC United of Manchester on August 6.

But ex-Blackburn Rovers forward Jansen believes his side are better prepared for the challenge this year.

“It is going to be tough as we start with FC United and also face Bradford Park Avenue, who we played last year.

“Then you think about the three quality sides who were relegated, such as Halifax, Altrincham and Kidderminster Harriers, along with the likes of Darlington who bossed the EvoStik Premier League last season.

“There is also Salford City, who have spent money to get here, so it is really tough — and I thought last year was tough.

“We are prepared and have strengthened our squad in the spine of the team.

“Big Sam (Allardyce) said the first thing is you need to keep clean sheets and you don’t lose games.”

“We have brought Scott Leather, Stephen Jordan into defence and then Josh O’Keefe in midfield and Marcus Carver and Sefton Gonzales up front.”

Jansen insists the Victory Park outfit are looking to improve on last season’s performance when they finished outside the play-off positions.

He said: “We want to get off to a good start to the season as otherwise you are playing catch-up and trying to get points.

“I have kept the core of the squad with Jake Cotterill, Sam Ashton, Andy Teague and Adam Roscoe and they have been here for as long as I have been here.”

Jansen has completed his football coaching Uefa ‘A’ licence and has even earned praise from one of the game’s top managers for starting his career with Chorley.

He said: “I went to Sir Alex Ferguson’s golf day a couple of weeks ago and he said to me it is not where you start your career it is where you finish.

“He was talking about when he was at East Stirlingshire and said how it was a good grounding and it is the same for me.

“It was nice for him to talk to me about management even though I think he is still not happy with me that I did not join him 20 years ago.

“I am really happy at Chorley and I think this is the strongest squad we have ever had.

“Everyone here knows the way we want to play and they are also doing it for the badge.”

The Magpies continued their preparations for the new season with a 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic last Wednesday night.

Their final pre-season match is the Harold Taylor Memorial trophy when they entertain a Bolton Wanderers side, tonight.