MARK Roberts has his sights set on keeping elusive clean sheets for new club Accrington Stanley next season.
The 23-year-old centre half has played a major part in the Reds' pre-season campaign after signing a one-year contract in the summer from Northwich Victoria.
And he is out to make sure what was the leakiest defence in League Two last season - with 81 goals conceded - doesn't have the same unwanted record in the new campaign which starts in eight days time.
He has been partnered with Robbie Williams in the heart of defence for most of the friendly games and, although manager John Coleman is on the hunt for another defender, Roberts hopes to get the nod to start at Wycombe.
"I didn't really know about the number of goals Accrington conceded last season until I played in the pre-season friendly at Clitheroe," said the former Crewe player.
"We kept a clean sheet and someone started joking about it being the first clean sheet we have kept in a long time.
"Hopefully, though, there will be plenty more to come this season.
"I have played most of the pre-season games but you never know what will happen. But, if the shirt is mine when the season starts, I will make sure I take the opportunity to keep it.
"Me and Rocky (Robbie Williams) have started developing an understanding in the pre-season games and I think we compliment each other.
"We kept a couple of clean sheets in Scotland and we are getting used to each other every time we play. Hopefully we will be a good partnership."
They could get another chance to link up tomorrow against a Manchester City XI - believed to be mostly youth and reserve team players - at the Fraser Eagle Stadium (KO 3pm) and at Burscough next Tuesday (KO 7.45pm) before the real stuff begins.
And Roberts admits that he is thoroughly enjoying his first proper taste of League Two life.
He began his career at Gresty Road, went on loan to Southport and Chester - where he made his one and only league appearance - before moving to Northwich in January this year.
And when the call came to come to Accrington in the summer there was no hesitation.
"I spoke to the gaffer and then I went away on my holiday, came back and was offered a contract so I was delighted," he said. "It was totally unexpected and so far it has been brilliant.
"They are a great bunch of lads and we all got to know each other better on the pre-season tour of Scotland and I can't wait for the season to start now." Roberts is in touch with one-time Stanley target Keiran Charnock who he played with at Vics but who opted to move to League Two title favourites Peterborough in the summer.
"I text him wishing him all the best and told him I will see him in League Two," said Roberts, as the two will clash in Stanley's second home league game of the season.
"When you drop into the Conference, it isn't always easy to get back into the league so it is good that both of us did it.
"We both did well at Northwich. It was the team closest to my house and it is always nice to play for your local team. But I always kept an eye on the northern teams in League Two.
"When you are in the Conference, you want to make the step up especially as there is such a lot of travelling and such a lot of southern teams.
"Now, I can't wait for all the local derbies against the likes of Bury and Rochdale where my family and mates can watch me home and away."
He admits the step from part-time football into full-time hasn't been a problem.
"Northwich wasn't really part-time as we trained three mornings a week and then you were expected to do a lot of work on your own fitness-wise. I kept fit and it is a great chance for me now."
And there might be a few goals from the defender who has already showed his scoring prowess with a goal against Clitheroe.
"I used to be a centre forward when I was a lot younger and scored a lot of goals," he said.
"I haven't scored a league goal yet so it will be nice if I could get a few - I haven't sorted out a target though. Perhaps me and Rocky can have a competition to see who can get the most."
l MIDFIELDER Jay Harris scored a hat-trick as a Stanley mixed team ran out 4-1 winners at North West Counties side Squires Gate on Wednesday night.
Lee McEvilly, Leighton McGivern, Graham Branch, Paul Carden and Harris started alongside several youth team players and two trialists in the Reds' defence. McGivern scored the other goal.
- TICKETS are now on sale in the club shop for the home Carling Cup tie with Championship side Leicester City on Tuesday, 14 August.
Admission prices are, Main Stand: £Adult £15; concession £10; Terrace: Adult £13, concession £8.