Featherstone Rovers boss Andy Hay believes the key to success in 2015 for his team will be extra competition for places after the squad became too thin last season.
Hay expects next season to present new tougher challenges than in recent years in the Championship and wants to be well prepared for the task ahead.
He told the Express: ”There’s going to be a lot of good clubs in the league and we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a difficult year to get where we want to be and that’s in the top four at the end of the season.
“We’ve got some big challenges like having to play two games over Easter again. It’s a tough call on part-time players and we’ve got London on the Friday night then have a quick turn around to a hard fixture against Sheffield on the Monday. That’s not going to be easy, but we can plan for it and we want a bigger squad.
“I learned some lessons towards the end of last season that we trimmed the squad down too much. I think we need a bigger squad of more robust players and this will help us over periods like Easter.
“That period you can’t go limping into it with an injured squad then come out of the other side with a lot of injuries so we need to prepare for that and probably rotate the squad.
“We need to have a big enough team where everybody can compete for places and that’s where I’m aiming for in the recruitment in the off-season and going forward to the rest of the year.”
Hay is hoping to be able announce more signings shortly, but said there were no names he could reveal yet.
He said: “The recruitment is going all right. We’ve got plenty of nibbles and bites and lots of players who are on the edge, but we haven’t bagged the targets we want yet.
“We haven’t missed out, but we haven’t got them yet.
“Every day is a bit of a waiting game and I’d like to get a few more names on the bottom of the sheets signed and ready for training.
“There’s not much information we can reveal yet. We need to do some work and that’s what I’m doing pretty much everyday now, working on the recruitment, speaking to players and trying to build the right squad for next season.
“It’s crucial we have the players to do well next season.
“I spoke to our existing players before they had a couple of weeks off and sent them away knowing it was going to be a big year ahead.
“We’re a part-time team, but we’ve got to be prepared to train as many hours as we can and make everything count.
“Every pre-season is tough, but this is a big step for the club and something we know we need to capitalise on.
“I’ve been working hard with Gaz Whittaker (head of strength and conditioning) to ensure that our pre-season programme prepares us suitably for 2015. The pre-season trial games that we are organising will help with our preparation and I’m looking forward to get started in November.”
Hay is using part of the close season to further his education in sports science by spending three days with American Football side Seattle Seahawks.
He will be the guest of Dean Riddle, who is head of applied science at the Seahawks and has previous experience of being head of strength and conditioning at Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers, Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Sheffield United and Leeds United.
Hay said “Dean and I go back a long way and this is a fantastic opportunity for me to spend time at a franchise that leads the way in many areas.
“They use the latest methods in terms of sports science, recovery and have state of the art facilities.
“Everything they do is cutting edge and I’m hoping I can bring back some of their methods to Featherstone Rovers and convert them to our sport.
“I will be looking at their operations from top to bottom and I’m really looking forward to the experience.”