Paul Crarey excited by squad competition as League 1 season edges closer

Josh McAllister

Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey says he is excited by squad competition ahead of the League 1 campaign as his side prepare to face Workington this weekend in a pre-season friendly.

Hunslet and North Wales Crusaders will also meet on Sunday, with both games being played behind closed doors with available streams.

The Raiders return to action for the first time since round one of the Betfred Challenge Cup defeat to Oldham back in March, but that hasn’t dampened Crarey’s mood, who is looking forward to seeing his youngster feature at Derwent Park.

He said: “I’m expecting a really physical encounter. We’ll have to play through them and not around them and it is another step towards the start of the season.

“Youngsters will be given a chance this weekend to test the physicality of the division. We have some dual-registration players from last year who have put a lot of work in so it would be good for them to get the reward of playing.

“Charlie Emslie, Sam Jones and Liam Saunders will be amongst those given a chance, alongside new signing Connor Terrill. They’re all promising young players and hopefully will be getting a good run. We have a fantastic academy and I think we’ve signed a player every single year from academy, so it’s fantastic to see that system be successful.”

This weekend the club is preparing to welcome fans back inside the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium for the first time since the pandemic, with their new marquee and beer garden set to show this weekend’s action on a big screen.

Crarey added: “It’s fantastic what they’ve done. I went in this week and it was absolutely brilliant. Club has gone to a different level in terms of off the field and going the next level and we’re heading in right direction.

“Our community side is unbelievable, it’s outstanding. It’ll be great for fans to be inside the ground this weekend for the first time in a long time.

“The response we had before the Oldham game with texts of good luck was unbelievable, my phone didn’t stop pinging all day.

“Fans and sponsors keep clubs going at our level, and we have some fantastic support and sponsors and probably have one of if not the best support in the league.”