Head Coach Matt Craddock is looking to the B Team to kick on from last year’s solid start as they head into their second season’s work.
Wanderers launched a B squad last summer in a move to further develop the club’s young players and create a better pathway between Academy and senior football.
The Whites played a total of 30 fixtures across the Central League and Cup and in a variety of friendly fixtures, allowing plenty of game-time and growth across the squad at the start of a long-term project geared towards nurturing young talent.
Several players also benefitted from loan spells in competitive, senior football before returning – along with three new signings – to pre-season training at Lostock at the start of last week to begin preparations for the new campaign.
And Craddock believes the on-going evolvement of personnel, planning and preparation stepped up over the summer will see the B Team strategy pay dividends over time.
“We want to keep getting things better. There were some really good things and a lot of areas to improve, which we are trying to do in every area,” said the B Team boss.
“I feel we have had added value in every section and seeing the players again has been really positive because it shows the processes we have improved are having an impact.
“Last year was good because we started from nothing but I’m really keen to kick on and show what we’ve got.
“We’ve got some really good players. We’ve got some really good staff and I want to make sure that’s reflected in what people see from the outside.
“Sometimes when you get something going you don’t see the fruits of your labour immediately. We’ve had to be quite patient because at times it was challenging, particularly when the squad was stretched when we allowed players to go out on loan.
“But we had some really good performances and results in some of the friendly games against testing opposition and there’s a lot of good stuff going on off the pitch, as well.
“We’ve got some good players coming through and we’ve got to make sure we keep the environment really competitive and challenging and really supportive and hopefully some of the players will ‘pop’.
“Conor Carty is an example of that - and we’ve had a couple of players away with the first team this pre-season. It’s a fresh start for everybody.”
While Carty continues to rack up the appearances for League of Ireland Premier Division title challengers St Patrick’s Athletic, Max Conway and Arran Pettifer were part of the Whites’ first-team squad training in Portugal last week.
They were among the players to benefit from loan moves last season, while both midfielder Nelson Khumbeni and defender Lamine Toure got a few minutes of first-team action in the Carabao Cup.
The squad has also been strengthened this summer by the signings of former Leeds United forward Ben Andreucci, ex-Liverpool defender Charlie Hayes-Green and forward Trevon Bryan, who was with Burnley, as Wanderers aim to keep raising bar.
“We’ve added some good players to the squad and I think you can see it’s kicked on again,” added Craddock.
“The standards have been really good and it feels like I’m working with young professionals now, rather than an Academy team.
“We have really targeted the people we’ve brought in. We have been really specific with what we need and where we think the pathway into the first team is.
“We looked at loads of players over the summer but actually only went and spoke to the ones we brought in.
“It’s been really targeting the lads who have come in, who will add value and quality to the group that we have.”
The B Team plays its opening pre-season friendly at Lancaster City on Wednesday, 12 July.