Luke Joyce says the current Accrington Stanley team hold ‘plenty of promise’ with the season opener just eight days away.
The Reds kick off with their Capital One Cup campaign at Carlisle on Saturday August 11.
They face Coventry tomorrow (3pm) in their penultimate pre-season friendly and captain Joyce says he has been impressed with the squad Paul Cook has assembled.
Cook has made no secret of the fact they are missing a front man – although they were hoping to sign young striker James Gray this week who has been on trial and Padraig Amond, on loan last season, has not ruled out a return although he is currently going through pre-season with his club Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal.
But, with tall defender Tom Eckersley from Bolton the latest to be added to the Crown Ground fold, Joyce believes the squad is coming together nicely.
"On the basis of our last two friendlies, I have been impressed," said the 25-year-old, after Stanley’s 1-0 win over Blackburn was followed by their 1-1 draw with Scottish Premier League side St Mirren on Sunday.
"We are trying to implement everything the gaffer and Leam (Richardson) have told us over the summer and I think we have done that.
"The gaffer does things differently to former boss John Coleman, the way we go about things and the way we play.
"We were getting used to it towards the end of last season and we have all taken it on board during pre-season and it’s good."
One of the new boys who has impressed Joyce is George Miller, who the captain plays alongside in a defensive midfield pairing.
The former Preston man scored a wonder goal against St Mirren from the edge of the area and Joyce said: "We have seen him do that in training, it’s a great strike.
"I enjoy playing alongside him, he is a young lad and he has a good attitude and he is willing to listen and learn.
"There is a determination to improve but I think that’s the case for all the young lads here – and it is a young side with me being one of the oldest at 25!"
Joyce does expect the Reds to sign up an experienced striker before the League Two kick off at Southend on August 18 but knows the pressure is on all over for goals this season.
"We play with three attacking midfielders so there is the pressure for them to score but they are also putting pressure on themselves to score, which can only be a good thing," he added.
"They know they have got to create chances and chip in while me and George have also got some responsibility as well. None of us are fazed by it as it’s part of our jobs."
He continued: "I know you can’t get too carried away by friendlies but, on the evidence of them, there is plenty of promise in the side.
"We have bonded as a squad, we have been golfing this week and there is a good team spirit here, as always, and we expect a tight league – as League Two always is.
"We had decent home form last season so we need to maintain that but the big thing for us is our away form."
Stanley last won on their travels in January at Burton and Joyce admitted: "That’s a long time. We have a tough start at Southend but we need to get rid of that statistic as soon as we can as we don’t want it hanging over us.
"I would love to get a win at Carlisle too. I know it wasn’t most people’s dream draw but me and Michael Liddle played there together, when he was on loan from Sunderland, and it’s great for us both to go back, especially for me as captain."