FYLDE Rugby Club commence pre-season training tonight ... but with three notable absentees.
Steve McGinnis and newly-appointed skipper Evan Stewart are still recovering from knee operations, while Chris Johnson was not able to take part for a different reason.
The club’s new fly-half recruit from Huddersfield twisted his ankle playing five-a-side soccer.
Fylde have been busy in the summer, recruiting players for a second challenging season in National League One.
As well as Johnson, other new arrivals include Dan Birchall, Scott Barrow, Ben Vernon, Roger Banks and Nathan Fowles.
Training will take place tonight at Arnold School as the Woodlands Memorial Ground will be out of bounds until after The Open Golf Championship – the Fylde headquarters is being used as a police operational base for the event.
Nelson is happy with his squad but is no under illusions over the size of the task ahead.
He said: “Esher, who have come down, seem to have kept hold of all their players. Richmond and Albanians will be strong, while Coventry have recruited well.
“Loughborough University have massive resources, a new stadium and the best sports science block in the country.
“It is a very competitive league and you only have to look at last season – Barking beat us twice, and beat Jersey and Ealing (who finished first and second) but were still relegated by some way.
“The league is getting stronger and that is why we need a sizeable squad. No-one will be a shoo-in and every player will have to fight for his position.”
Fylde are still talking to Namibian World Cup scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe and Stockport forward Dave Marwick, though deals are some way from being finalised. Nelson points out that he is being “inundated” with cvs from agents offering him a host of players from both at home and abroad.
Fylde are still hoping to keep free-scoring wing Nick Royle, whose England Sevens contract is coming to an end. He dislocated his thumb while playing for England in the Moscow Sevens recently but the injury is in no way long-term.
Nelson said: “Nick’s agent is trying to get him a Super League contract.
“If that happens, he could still stay with us until the start of Super League training, which is usually in December.”
Richard Kenyon has joined the Fylde coaching set-up.
He will help to coach the backs. His team-mate Paul Arnold already does a similar job already with the forwards.
Nelson said: “Like Paul, Richard will primarily be a player, but it is good for him to get an input into the coaching side.”