LAUNCESTON boss Dan Hart says any new signing he makes will ‘become a better player’ as the Clarets gear up for the new South West Peninsula League season that gets underway in seven and a half weeks’ time.
Hart ended his playing career at Saltash United to join the Pennygillam side last October following the sacking of Brad Gargett and Mike Bridgeman, but since then, the dreadful winter weather, coupled with a second national lockdown, means he has managed just one competitive game.
Although the SWPL Premier West campaign was cancelled, the Clarets have had game time.
Hart told the Post: “We spent April and May playing a series of friendlies with the existing players from once we’d joined. It was good to see them play and try out some different stuff that we may work on next year, and three or four systems that we may use.
“It was really pleasing to see how the players have bought into what we’re trying to do.
“Something we felt, though, from the games is that we have a lot of work to do with them as players. Among the existing group, we have a series of young players who require a shift in mentality in addition to structured coaching.
“That’s how we feel we can push the club forward as we approach the new season.”
Once he had taken over, Hart quickly brought in former Clarets James Bradley and Tom Ellacott as well as full-backs George Warren and Jake Anderson, and the former Plymouth Argyle midfielder has been busy strengthening the club on and off the pitch.
He said: “We’ve added a goalkeeper called Lewis Slade, who is a former product of the Exeter City Academy. His father is a former Launceston player, and Lewis holds all of the attributes we wish to see in a young goalkeeper.
“We’ve also brought in a head of strength and conditioning, Connor Fitzpatrick, who is a Masters student, and has got previous work experience with the Wales hockey team.
“Connor has made an immediate impact and his planning for pre-season will be key to getting the existing and new players ready for the demands we’ll place on them in the new season.”
With the likes of Bodmin Town and St Blazey signing plenty of players so far, it’s obvious that he needs some experience.
He said: “We’re looking to sign four or five more players throughout pre-season, and we’ll be monitoring the progress of players at other clubs who we also see as the right fit for us.
“As a management team we refuse to approach the wrong type of players for how we foresee the club moving forward, and every player we bring in has to be the right fit for what we see as a long-term project.
“Clearly there are other clubs in our division who are able to offer added incentives to players. However, every player that joins us will become a better player as a result, and that’s what we wish to gain a reputation for.”
Hart, assistant Todd Hanrahan and first-team coach Matt Hodgetts have sorted five pre-season friendlies for the Clarets, ranging from St Piran League East side Torpoint Athletic Reserves to Western League outfits Saltash United and Millbrook. There are also clashes with Premier East outfits Brixham and Elburton Villa.
But it is clear that the training pitch is his focus, with pre-season getting underway on Monday (June 21).
Hart said: “We’re quite happy as we are, but we may put one more game in.
“We’ve got a nice little balance! It’ll give the players different types of challenges against very different styles that play at various levels. Our main aim in pre-season, however, will be to give the team the required structure on the training pitch in order to prepare us correctly for the season.
“We feel that it is extremely important that each player goes on to the pitch equipped with the knowledge in their position of what we want in possession, out of possession and in transition.”
The Clarets have also found out their SWPL Premier West fixtures, which will see them face 34 games plus any runs in the cup competitions. They play seven league games by the end of August, including against many of the sides likely to be towards the top end.
Promoted Penryn Athletic are the opening-day visitors to Pennygillam on August 7, before they go to Liskeard Athletic and then welcome Bodmin Town.
Next up are away trips to Falmouth Town, Camelford and Godolphin Atlantic, before Wadebridge Town’s visit rounds off the month on August 31.
Reflecting on the schedule, Hart said: “It’s really great that we get to start the season at home, regardless of the opposition.
“We’ll be looking at the season in small blocks of five or six games at a time, and giving ourselves points targets for each of those blocks.
“August is incredibly busy. We have an existing group of extremely young, fit players who we will arm with the required structure to compete in every game.
“The next task for us is to ensure every new signing that comes into the club is able to drive high standards and make demands of the younger players and themselves during every training session and fixture.”
Launceston’s pre-season fixtures are: July 7 – Torpoint Athletic Reserves (A), 16 – Millbrook (H), 23 – Brixham (A), 26 – Saltash United (A), 30 – Elburton Villa (H).