ACCRINGTON Stanley skipper Peter Cavanagh has pledged his future to the club after putting pen to paper on a new two-year deal. And four of his team-mates from Stanley's promotion-winning season have also pledged their services to the club before the start of the new campaign.
Defenders Robbie Williams, Andy Gouck and Michael Knowles and midfielder Paul Howarth have all signed new two-year deals.
Delighted Reds boss John Coleman said this week: "I knew they had agreed terms so I'm pleased about it. I think they are all happy."
Coleman knows next week's friendlies will give him a good sign of how far his side have come over the last month - and how they may fare in the Nationwide Conference.
The Reds entertain Tranmere at home tomorrow (3pm) before they face First Division Burnley on Wednesday followed by Preston North End on Thursday (both 7.45pm).
"These games are a big step up for us,'' said the canny Reds boss. "We are pitting our wits against First Division sides and both teams will be strong. No disrespect to the UniBond League, but we were head and shoulders above some teams last season and this will be a chance to see how good we really are. Hopefully, we can build some confidence and then be ready for the Conference."
Ex-Clarets Paul Cook and Gordon Armstrong will be looking forward to lining up against their former team-mates who they left only last season.
Cook had been struggling with an ankle injury and the Stanley fans haven't had a chance to see him but the midfielder is expected to play some part against Burnley.
"The lads are made up about the game. They have come to the club and mixed in well," said the Reds chief. "They have no airs and graces, they are good lads.
"They are still ambitious and want to do well for the club and themselves. Some ex-pros just want another pay day but we don't pay that kind of money here and we only want players who want to play for Accrington Stanley. Gordon is solid, his fitness is good and his experience will rub off on people like Andy Proctor and Steve Flitcroft.
"And for the rest of the players, the Burnley game should be a good match played in a good atmosphere. We will see what areas we need to improve on, if any.
"We are getting sharper game by game and that has been pleasing. Lutel has impressed me as well. I don't know what extra training he has been doing but he looks that extra yard sharper and his touch has improved. He is the complete player for our standard and higher."
Coleman added: "I still don't know who my starting 11 are. It would be wrong for me to have any preconceived ideas as all those players are going out there to impress me. It is up to the players to convince me that they should be in the starting 11 and then the team picks itself."