Workington Reds boss Danny Grainger believes they will be in the mix for promotion when the new league campaign starts again - but warned that they have lost the surprise element.

Reds were leading the way in the Northern Premier League North/West Division when their season was brought to an abrupt end by the coronavirus lockdown.

And Grainger says they will be challenging for the league title once again this term - but they can’t take anything for granted.

“We will use the disappointment of last season and it will serve a purpose but it has happened and what we do can’t affect last season now,” said Grainger.

“Just because we did so well doesn’t mean it will be automatically handed to us again this year.

“I expect to be pushing for the title but we won’t be the surprise package any more, all the other teams know what we are about and what we bring to the table.”

Grainger believes he has assembled a strong squad that can mount a challenge and says he is not actively looking for more players.

“I am pretty happy with the squad we have got,” said Grainger. “Obviously you can never say never about more players.

“If someone turns up on your door then we will have a look but the squad I have is good.

“I am lucky, I was backed by the board this summer and we made some good acquisitions as well as keeping most of last year’s players. We need to make sure that we don’t close the door but we are not actively looking either.”

Reds opened their pre-season campaign with a 5-2 win over Carlisle City at Gillford Park on Tuesday night, with new signings Ruben Jerome and Louis Potts both featuring.

Goals from Jordan Holt, who has been training with the squad, and Brad Carroll put Reds ahead before City pulled one back before the break courtesy of Rob McCartney.

In the second half Jerome had two penalty attempts saved by City keeper Kyle Townsley but he then struck the last goal of the night for Reds. In between Dav Symington picked up two trademark strikes while Marc Shiel scored City’s second.

Reds will go again on Saturday when they travel to Penrith AFC for the second clash, again to be played behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions.