BRADFORD (Park Avenue) captain Luca Havern admits the club have to be realistic about what they can achieve in the National League North.

After 19 games so far this season, Avenue have only won four, and sit just six points clear of the relegation zone.

They have a chance to try and improve that record this coming Tuesday in their next league game, a tricky trip to play-off chasing Southport.

Havern said: “It’s been tough so far, and there have been some really hard games, but we have had some great results too.

“We’d like to be a bit higher up the table, but we’ve drawn too many games (six) that we should have won.

“We had gone three league games unbeaten before losing to Gateshead on Monday though, and we often have a strong back end to the season, so we’ll keep fighting.”

But Havern admitted: “I’ve been around long enough at the club to know what’s realistic.

“The first two years I had here we reached the play-offs, but it was a bit different then, in terms of things like the player budget.

“The play-offs are out of reach for us at the moment with the resources we’ve got, but the gaffer (Mark Bower) and his team are doing an unbelievable job.

“You look at how we sold Isaac Marriott and Lewis Knight recently, and Jake Beesley (who played up front for Avenue in 2018/19) has just got that move to Blackpool.

“People are watching us and the talented players we’ve got, so they’re doing a great job, Bows (Bower) and his staff.

“We feel like we should be in mid-table, but you have to remember that it’s tricky with the full-time teams that play in the division.”

At least Avenue are on steadier ground than in 2019/20, when the coronavirus pandemic and a subsequent null and void season saved them from almost certain relegation.

Havern said: “The club have turned things around from that campaign.

“We did better than expected in the two seasons before that, but things changed and a lot of us like myself left, as did Bows.

“But he’s a great manager, and since he came back, you can see he gets the best out of the youngsters and the team as a whole.

“The structures and resources are better now, with us having the 3G pitch and the ability to rent that out for example, and we’re definitely more steady as a club now.”

Havern was diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer (melanoma) last year, but fortunately he has fully recovered.

The 33-year-old admitted he didn’t want to dwell on the past, but said it made him realise he wanted to play for as long as he could, after an uncertain period where he feared his career could be over.

The centre-half remains integral to Bower’s plans, especially with such a small squad.

Havern said: “We’ve got a core of senior lads like myself, and we want to help the youngsters flourish.

“We’ve got the likes of Brad Dockerty doing well now, and Isaac before, and all the young lads are so sharp in training.

“The game has changed since I was younger, and the older lads feel that responsibility now to help the youngsters do as much with their ability as they can.

“If that can all come together, and we show consistency as a team, we can start pushing up the league in this second half of the season.”