ACCRINGTON Stanley may have a few strikers waiting in the wings but Lutel James isn't going to give up his position lightly.
Manager John Coleman has James, his regular strike partner Paul Mullin, Brian Welch, Darren Connell and new signing John Durnin itching for a front two spot. But St Kitts international James wants to make sure he is the first name on the team-sheet in Stanley's Nationwide Conference charge.
"There are a few strikers now at the club but they will have to fight to get my place," said James, who has just signed a new two-year deal.
"I don't think it is a bad thing that there is cover in every position as it keeps everyone on their toes but I want to play as many games as possible. In some ways, it does make it easier as last season it was Paul and I all the time. John (Coleman) can't take that risk of depending on us every game again. It means if we pick up knocks here and there then we can have a rest - although it does mean we might lose our places which isn't good!"
The 31-year-old is desperate not to miss any games he doesn't have to this season after the disappointment of a couple of seasons ago. He had a poor disciplinary record and missed nine games in one campaign so when Burnley's Arthur Gnohere made a lunge at him at 1-1 friendly with Burnley last week, he kept his head.
"I have learnt my lesson. I wanted to back chat and have a go but I know I can't. If I get sent off I let my team-mates and the coaching staff down. I don't want to risk losing my place. I have just got to get on with it and that is what I have tried to do for the last few seasons."
The former Bury striker admits he has missed his fellow hitman Mullin in recent games as Mullin has been unavailable for a couple of friendlies although he returned for the Harrogate and Great Harwood games. The duo bagged around 60 goals between them to help Stanley clinch the UniBond Premier Division championship.
"We have a telepathic understanding and we work well together, and that is no disrespect to anyone else. I am just used to him and know what he is capable of. Together we can score goals."
James is also full of praise for left winger Rory Prendergast who has been on fire in the pre- season.
"I just hope he hasn't peaked too early as he is doing really well," said James. "When Dean (Calcutt) is fully fit and we have him and Rory coming from both wings it will be great. Both are quick and strong players and it is going to be hard for the opposition. And with me, Paul and or any of the other strikers waiting to get on the end of them, hopefully it will be the right combination."
James has set himself a target and he hopes this is enough to propel Stanley to the higher reaches of the Conference.
"I would be happy with 20 goals," he said. "Although of course I want more! I don't know how we will do this season, it is the unknown. The boss thinks we can get to the play-offs, I obviously would like that and whatever happens I will be giving 100 per cent to make that possible."
He has been impressed with the signings of the experienced Paul Cook and Gordon Armstrong who should play a key part this summer.
"Paul is great to watch, he doesn't give the ball away, he is like Mike Marsh. He holds possession which is important, he is quality. Gordon is strong, he reads the game well."
Manchester-born James is now keen to put last season to the back of his mind as he believes it could hinder their Conference campaign. The pacey frontman says that is the past and now Stanley should only look forward.
"It is easy to get carried away on what we did last season but it doesn't count for anything now. It is in the past and we have got to realise that. It is what we do now that counts. Now the full focus has to be on this season and the Aldershot game on Sunday. I can't wait to get going and for all the hype to die down. I have been working hard during the pre season and I hope it pays off."
And so do the Stanley fans.