THE group? Strong as ever.

Poor results in pre-season? Irrelevant.

Will Jones struck a soothing tone during an interview with the Guardian ahead of Witton Albion’s return to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s top-flight tomorrow.

Supporters may have seen their favourites win only once so far this summer, but the front man has told the not to worry ahead of a trip to Mickleover Sports.

“The buzz hasn’t gone,” he said.

“That’s still there, and excitement is mixed in as well.

“Results haven’t gone our way, but we’ve had four or five new lads to fit in and they’ve been getting used to how we play.

“Perhaps that’s taken a bit longer than we’d have liked, but it’s normal for things to be up and down while that happens.

“It’s not knocked confidence at all, certainly not that I’ve noticed.”

The 27-year-old insists too that Witton are not daunted by stepping up to a higher level.

On the contrary, he revealed that they’re aiming high.

“Our goal is to reach the play-offs,” he said.

“There are more teams in with a chance of being there or thereabouts, and that’s a big difference from last season.

“Another is that most opponents we come up against will have a bit more quality in front of goal and will take their chances.

“That’s something we did well though, and with the same work ethic we can be competitive.”

The former Burscough and Marine striker scored 10 goals in 14 starts following a switch from Colwyn Bay in February.

He had to wait for a chance to contribute while the relevant documents were swapped, something he acknowledges left him feeling frustrated.

Now settled, he is confident of doubling that tally this time around.

Northwich Guardian:

Will Jones shapes to shoot at goal during Witton Albion's promotion play-offs final success against Spalding United at Wincham Park in April. Picture: Keith Clayton

“It was hard when I first got here,” he said.

“The team were winning, but the gaffer was giving the lads a night of training because they had so many midweek games.

“That meant I was doing bits in the gym on my own rather than getting to know them, and that’s just not the same.

“To go on and get 10 goals was great, and I was happy to have a chance to help them get to where they wanted.

“I always set myself a little target, and reckon I can get myself between 15 and 20 this season.”

Asked what Witton’s biggest asset will be as they attempt to establish themselves again in non-league football’s third tier, the striker was unequivocal.

He said: “The gaffer has kept the squad together.

“We knew Brad [Bauress] would go – look at the season he had – and Tom Owens as well.

“But after getting promoted nobody wanted to consider other offers.

“They’ve not batted an eyelid even when there has been interest; we want to see what we can do together in this league.

“It helps that we get on so well, which is why keeping guys like Anthony Brown and Paul Williams around is so important.

“They’re the leaders, and set the tone in the dressing room.”