ALBION SPORTS' boss Rizwan Mohammed has been overjoyed by what he’s seen in pre-season, as his side prepare for their opening NCEL fixture at Silsden this evening.

The Lions, who have returned to groundshare with Bradford (Park Avenue) at Horsfall Community Stadium for the upcoming season, have had a successful time in the off-season.

They have amassed a total of 20 goals in six pre-season friendlies, while the squad, which has seen a sprinkle of new additions arrive, are already flourishing in each other’s company.

The Lions have returned to groundshare with Bradford (Park Avenue) at Horsfall Community St

The tight-knit nature of the current group has given manager Mohammed every reason to be optimistic ahead of the new campaign.

He said: “I’m very confident about the season ahead because we genuinely have a great group of lads.

“There has been a noticeable change in how the players address themselves professionally in-house, while the morale within the group is at an all-time high. For example, our team bonding events such as yoga classes and meals out have seen 20 of the first team players in attendance, which is brilliant.

“There is one or two question marks about whether the squad is completely finished in relation to incomings, however, I’m still confident in the players we have at our disposal and that they will deliver.”

Mohammed added: “I’ve been in football management for over eight years now and the one thing I’ve tried to maintain throughout that time is a togetherness between the group. It’s crucial to creating a winning mentality within the club.

“I think that last year we built a very strong bond as a team, but this year will be even better because we’ve added the right players to take us that extra step forward, both on and off the field.

“For sure, in terms of togetherness within a group, this team is right up there with one of the best I have managed.”

Mohammed emphasised the importance of a strong transfer window when he said: “A lot has gone right for us in pre-season and I feel a big part of that is to do with recruitment. It was important for us that we recruited players who could adapt and fit into the group quickly. That has been the case and it’s felt as if the new lads have been playing with us for years. They’ve all fit in seamlessly.

“It’s a brilliant scenario to find yourself in as a manager when your signings settle in as easily as mine have.

“I have to give the full management team a great deal of credit for this. Neil Sibson and Craig Ogi have both come into the club and done a great job helping to recruit new players.

“As a team, we’ve targeted more experienced players this time around; players that know the league already and both Neil and Craig have done brilliantly in finding the right players to improve the team.”

It’s matchday one for Albion this evening when they travel to face Silsden in a local derby and Mohammed admitted that victory will be key for his side’s confidence.

“It’s very important that we get off to a good start on Friday because it sets you up nicely for the opening quarter of the season. The confidence, momentum and feel-good factor will grow if we get off to a winning start, so that’s what we are eager to achieve.”

Mohammed also gave an update on the progress of new signing Oliver Klivington, who was rushed to hospital during Albion's 4-1 victory over Wakefield after feeling pain in his chest.

He said: "I've spoken to him (Oliver) today and he's seeing the right people, but at the moment he's waiting for a referral to a cardiologist to find out why he went down feeling those pains. He's hoping to see one in the next week or two, so we'll know more once he's had his appointment."