MANAGER Carl Heeley says Worcester City want to hit the ground running in tomorrow’s Vanarama Conference North opener against Stalybridge Celtic at Aggborough (3pm).

The Blue and Whites are determined to get off to a winning start as they look to pick up where they left off at the end of last season.

City were one of the forms sides in the division from January, eventually finishing 15th, and lost just one of their last seven games at Kidderminster Harriers.

Heeley has retained the defence that proved crucial in that record and added experience in midfield and up front, including Danny Jackman and Mike Symons.

With their landlords having invested heavily in the playing surface over the summer, Heeley feels everything is in place for a good start.

The City boss said: “It will be a tough opener but I think we are stronger than we were last season, certainly from at the start. We know it’s a tough league and tougher than last year but we are looking forward to it.

“We are looking forward to getting on the pitch at Aggborough. It seems in fabulous condition and it’s a lovely set-up. We only lost once at the turn of the year at Aggborough so hopefully we can hit the ground running.”

Although there are question marks over the forward line, with Ethan Moore leaving the club and Daniel Nti not certain to return, Heeley reckons some of the new recruits will surprise fans.

Utility player Connor Gater and wingers Tristan Dunkley and David McDermott have impressed in pre-season and could feature against Celtic.

Heeley said: “There are one or two lads that came in on trial probably thinking they were making the numbers up but I pick them on merit and some have done really well and are at the forefront of my mind to start the season. That’s through their own efforts.”

Stalybridge, managed by former Kidderminster midfielder Keith Briggs, finished 19th last season, 11 points below City, and lost both meetings against Heeley’s side 2-1.

But the Bower Fold outfit have regrouped over the summer and wrapped up their pre-season with a 1-0 victory over Lincoln City.