QUALITY not quantity isMark Bower's mantra for Guiseley this coming season.

The Lions may have fallen in the Conference North play-off final again in 2013-14 but their 34-year-old manager has seen a real air of optimism among his players as they reported back for pre-season training this week.

Bower, who admits it would take a real emergency for him to pull on a first-team jersey again, said: "We had 24 players, including five or six Academy players, at our first session and it was good to have them together once more.

"We will be operating on a smallish squad of 18 or 19 – we might make one more signing – but we have a lot of versatility within that group and I am sure that we can cope if we suffer one or two injuries during the season.

"Among those who can play in more than one position are Andy Holdsworth, Ben Parker, Danny Lowe and Jake Lawlor and there is real competition for places.

"Not one of the squad can say that there isn't serious competition for their place and we have told them in a players' meeting that not one of them is guaranteed a start for the first league match on Saturday, August 9.

"They will all have to go out and prove themselves beforehand."

With the league fixtures coming out today and eight pre-season friendlies already arranged, including matches against Bradford City, Leeds United and Huddersfield Town, things are falling into place for the start of the new campaign.

Bower said: "It always makes the season seem closer when the fixtures come out – but you still have to play everybody twice.

"However, with the sunshine and the rain making the grass grow on the pitch, season-ticket sales going well and having renewed our shirt sponsorship deal with Maxi Storage, there is a real momentum building up to August 9."