WITTON Albion open the new Northern Premier League campaign today at Whitby Town.

They do so on the back of deals arranged with Jack Byrne and Tom Edwards.

Sixteen-year-old Edwards, a midfielder in the club’s youth team, has now signed terms with the first team for this season.

Byrne joins the club on dual registration from AFC Fylde after featuring in a number of pre-season friendlies as a trialist.

Albion go into the opening game after a challenging pre-season, though, with events earlier this week leaving manager Carl Macauley saying at the time: “I’m in a nightmare.”

Captain Rob Hopley left the field on a stretcher during Tuesday night’s friendly defeat against Kidsgrove.

Witton were dealt two further blows when Danny McKenna (shoulder) and James Short (groin) were both forced off during the second-half.

Albion were already without James Foley (ankle) for a trip to North Yorkshire.

Striker Hopley must wait for a scan to reveal the extent of damage to his right knee sustained while he challenged for the ball.

“It’s probably serious, and it certainly looked bad,” said Macauley, who had arranged the fixture at short notice due to his side lacking sharpness during the closing stages of a draw with Marine last Friday.

He had drawn that conclusion after watching them fade in warm-up games at Mossley and Runcorn Linnets.

“We needed another match because our fitness levels weren’t where I wanted them to be,” he added.

“That was the reason for asking Kidsgrove to come up here.

“It’s probably the worst pre-season I’ve had in management in terms of bad luck with injuries and we’ve had so much disruption.

“And of course it’s been pretty tough going with recruitment too.

“We’ve had plenty thrown at us.”

With Hopley’s absence indefinite, it leaves Will Jones as the only recognised striker in Witton’s squad.

Hopley, 34, has scored 84 goals for the club since arriving from Colwyn Bay back in November, 2015.

Macauley said: “It’s a massive loss for us.

“He’s our leader, and young players – all of his teammates, in fact – look up to him.”

Albion won both trips that they had to Whitby last season.