Club captain David Makinson believes Leyland can be a force to be reckoned with this season – if they can get their strongest XI out on the pitch.
Perennially one of the strongest sides in the Northern League Division One, it’s been three years since the club last lifted the title.
In 2018, they finished in fourth place – a significant 51 points off eventual champions Blackpool, who incidently they come up against this weekend at Stanley Park.
One of the problems for the Fox Lane outfit in recent times is that they have been unable to put their best XI out on the pitch.
The early part of this season has been no different , they have had to make do without skipper Makinson, who is still troubled by a shoulder condition which sidelined him for most of last summer.
And key bowler Ross Bretherton, who took 40 league wickets at an average of 14.20 in 2018, has not featured so far this term due to an ankle injury.
“Ross hasn’t played yet – he did his ankle playing football,” said Makinson.
“We are hoping for big things from him this year because he was doing well opening the bowling.
“We are hoping he will be fit in a week or two. He’s been selected for this weekend but I don’t think he’s going to be able to bowl.
“I’ve not played yet but I‘m hoping to play at some stage this summer.
“I had a shoulder operation in January – I’m still recovering from that. It is improving, but I’m not quite ready yet.
“This season, I think it all depends on availability.
“If we can keep the majority of our first choice IX on the pitch then we can be challenging for everything – league and cups.
“If we do lose a couple of players then we have a pretty inexperienced second team and that could find us out.
“But if everybody is fit and raring to go, then we can be very strong this season.”
Leyland – who are being skippered by James Rounding in the absence of Makinson – lost their opening game of the season against Kendal in the league while their next match at St Annes was abandoned after only 17 overs.
However, they picked up their first win of the campaign in the ECB Knockout competition – comfortably brushing aside Lostock.
And they followed that up with a comprehensive victory over Penrith on Saturday and then got the better of Chorley in the T20 competition at Windor Park a day later.
“It was a poor start at Kendal – it was a game we should have won,” said Makinson.
“We just did not bowl well enough at the start defending a reasonable score and let them get away.
“The St Annes game was abandoned but we have won our last three and improved from that first game.”
This weekend, Leyland certainly face a test against the reigning champions on their home patch.
He added: “I think they have won two and drawn one. They are a good side. Sam Dutton at the top of the order is a good signing from Barrow.”
NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Blackpool v Leyland, Fleetwood v Kendal, Longridge v Barrow, Netherfield v Garstang, Penrith v Chorley, St Annes v Fulwood and Broughton.
Moore and smalley palace shield PREMIER DIVISION: Croston v Morecambe, Eccleston v Standish, New Longton v Preston, Penwortham v Fylde, South Shore v Great Eccleston, Vernon Carus v Lancaster.