Player of the Year Tom Warren has hailed the Yellows’ “unbelievable” support as they prepare to return to Cantilever Park for the 2020/21 season.
All tickets have been sold for the opening home pre-season friendly against City of Liverpool tonight (Friday), with capacity restrictions in place due to the Government’s COVID-19 guidance.
After three wins and a draw on the road in pre-season so far, including an impressive 3-0 win over Football League side Tranmere Rovers, it will be the first chance for the home fans to see Paul Carden’s refreshed squad.
Warren, who is sponsored by Ryan Bate, said: “The fans showed unbelievable support last season and we are all really excited to be back and have the fans back.
“All the lads can’t wait to play at home again after such a long wait and it’s even better for us to have the fans there watching.
“Pre-season so far has been tough as usual, especially after such a long time off.
“All the lads have come back fit and are looking sharper every training session and match. We’ve got quite a few new players who have all fit into the team well which showed in the win against a good team like Tranmere.”
Warren has featured in all four pre-season fixtures so far, including a somewhat familiar late winner against Skelmersdale almost five months after his injury time winner in the Yellows’ last competitive match, 3-2 at home to Matlock Town.
He has competition for the left-back berth this season, with Carden having brought in Joel Amado from Trafford, and the pair have also worked in tandem on the left in the friendlies.
“My personal goals for me are similar to last season,” Warren added.
“I still have a lot to learn and I’m learning every day from Cards and Bees as well as everyone else in the squad to try and improve myself as a player overall.”
Warren was voted Player of the Year by the club’s supporters after an impressive debut campaign, narrowly beating skipper Mark Roberts in the vote.
He made his debut away at Nantwich Town at the start of September, and soon became first choice ahead of Louis Barnes.
And the manager revealed the story behind bringing in the former Everton junior and how pleased he was with his progress last season.
Carden said: “It was a mad one. I’d only spoke to him on the Monday (the day before the game). I’d done some research and spoke to a few coaches at Everton, who all spokes well of him.
“I didn’t know whether to start him, but I just thought it was a free hit, the pitch was good, we were playing against a good team and he was going to be tested.
“He came in and he was outstanding. He had a run of games and there was starting to be a bit of interest in him, so we put him on a contract and he had a lull, which was always going to happen.
“I said to him this will be the best part of your learning how to play the game and how to get out of the rut.
“He wasn’t performing well or to the standard he sets himself, and gradually he turned the corner and he knew he was coming back good again.
“He’s a great kid and he’s got a chance of making it (as a full-time pro). He’ll come back with more knowledge of how to deal with things, and I said when the season finished, you don’t realise how important that period will be for you moving forward, and I think he’ll grasp it even more this season.”