WITH non-league football getting the green light to return to action, Ramsbottom United manager Chris Willcock is looking to put together his squad for the new season.

However, he will have to do so without last season’s leading scorer Nic Evangelinos who has moved up two divisions to join Curzon Ashton, now managed by former Colne boss Steve Cunningham.

The striker played a key role in the Rams' hugely-successful 2019/20 campaign where Willcock’s side mounted a strong promotion challenge.

Ramsbottom were second in Northern Premier League North West Division, 10 points behind leaders Workington and, on the back of just one defeat in 17 games were on course for a play-off place at least.

However the coronavirus pandemic halted proceedings before the season was declared ‘null and void’.

The new league campaign is scheduled to begin on Saturday, September 19 and focus will turn to rebuilding a squad to mount another push for promotion with a number of other players following Evangelinos out of the exit door.

Keeper Tom Stewart has stepped up one division to join Stalybridge Celtic while Reuben Jerome has accepted an offer to join last season’s title rivals Workington.

On-loan Josh Hmami has been released by his parent Welsh club TNS, but opted to join league rivals Marine. Ben Richardson, after a short stint with the club towards the end of last season, has returned to his former club Mossley.

However, the majority of last season’s successful squad are likely to remain at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, with Willcock close to signing deals with a number of newcomers in a bid to go one better this time round and regain the position in the Premier Division that was lost in 2016.

A number of pre-season friendlies are in the process of being arranged, although current government restrictions mean, as it stands, these games would be played behind closed doors with no supporters allowed to watch.

Hopefully the current trial of sporting events with limited crowds will prove successful, in which case the government may relax the instruction and supporters can finally return to grounds and begin to enjoy football once more ahead of the new campaign.