NEW Keighley CC captain Scott Etherington will see his side start their Bradford Premier League Division One campaign with a tricky clash at home to Pudsey Congs this weekend.

Congs just missed out on automatic promotion last time out, while Keighley only escaped relegation with a final day victory.

But a few factors could make this a close contest, not least a raft of new players.

But one, a teenage Australian, won’t quite be here in time for the season opener.

Etherington said: “We’re basically set now with our signings, but we’re just waiting for our overseas player, who’s called Noah McFadyen.

“He’s coming from Brisbane but he won’t be playing against Pudsey Congs as he’s not getting his visa until Friday (tomorrow).

“He’s just been playing in the Australia Under-19s carnival (Underage National Championships) and scored a hundred, so that’s a good sign for us.”

Opening batsman and quick bowler Billy Whitford is one of the new boys who should feature against Pudsey Congs, with Etherington saying: “Billy played for me last year at Undercliffe.

“I’ve known him since he was a young lad, I’ve monitored his progress and I really wanted him to join me here.

“We’d played together at Undercliffe a few years ago too and I just know he brings a quality standard to a club.

“We’ve brought in a good, experienced opening bowler in Ijaz Ahmed too (from Bankfoot).

“He knows his own game inside out, he bowls to his strengths, and his experience will be good for helping the younger lads at the club.”

Whitford and Ahmed could be among the key figures against Pudsey Congs, with Etherington saying: “It’s the first game of the season and anything could happen.

“It’s always a tough game against Pudsey, as they have good players and an experienced captain.

“But we just have to go about our own business.”

Pre-season has been positive for Keighley too, with Etherington saying: “It’s been a long winter, with a few changes and new players.

“But we had a friendly against Burley-in-Wharfedale last Saturday and it was good to get back out there.

“The result was irrelevant, it was about getting minutes in the middle for our batters, and some miles in the legs of our bowlers.

“We also had four Under-13s who played and they did the club proud.

“If they have ambitions of playing in the first team in the future they need to show their credentials, and I was really happy with their attitude, it was good to see.”

Etherington added: “We’ve gelled socially over the winter, with lots of new faces, and the atmosphere is great at the club.

“There are real feelgood vibes and we’re ready to go.”

Etherington told the Keighley News earlier this year that promotion was more likely to be the aim for next season, but he mused: “We want to win every game, but let’s just take things in our stride and see where we end up.

“I believe if we all play to our ability this season we’ll be up there challenging.

“The expectation wasn’t for this year, it was about developing our seconds and doing a bit of work off the field, but if people perform for us in the first team, we have a chance.”

Elsewhere in Division One on Saturday, Undercliffe visit East Ardsley, while Baildon entertain Carlton and East Bierley battle Jer Lane in a Bradford derby.

Last year's top two in the Premier Division will go head to head at Albert Terrace, as Woodlands host Townville.

Bradford & Bingley face a tough ask at Pudsey St Lawrence, while Cleckheaton are at Methley.

Newly-promoted Bankfoot host Farsley.