It is all about improvement for Ballinamallard United manager Gavin Dykes.

As the first game of the new season fast approaches, the Mallards boss is under no illusions what success would be this season - improvement on last.

It is something that he is consistent about. Last year he stated that the goal from the first ball was kicked was simply to do better than the season before and avoid being involved in a relegation play-off.

By the end of the season that was comfortably achieved, there was no last game dramas or injury time play off winners required.

And the target for this season is to build on what they did last time around.

“The plan is to try and do better than we did last year. If we finish a place above where we finished last year then we would be delighted. We said we had a three year plan, the first year went to plan, at times it was ropey enough but we finished well out of danger and I we will now try and push on. If we can do that and then push on the following season again then that would be brilliant,” he revealed.

However, Dykes knows that it is going to take a lot of hard work to achieve that goal with those clubs who are likely to be around them having all strengthened considerably over the summer.

“There is no doubt that it is going to be hard. Warrenpoint, Ards and Carrick have all strengthened big time, all the clubs have spent money and the money we have isn’t huge,” he added.

The Mallards boss though is pleased with what the club has provided him to strengthen his squad.

“I must thank the board for what they have given us, we are happy with it and I think I have a young vibrant side who can go and build on some of the exciting football that we played last season. We want to try and score goals like we did last year and hopefully we can defend a bit better and get over the line with a few more points.”

And he has spent his funds wisely by recruiting a mixture of talented young prospects and wily experienced performers in the shape of Ciaran Martyn and Richard Clarke.

“With the budget that we have we have done well. Getting Richard Clarke was a major coup for us and the credit for that goes to Andy Crawford while I’ve been chasing Ciaran Martyn for a long time and I’m pleased to have got him.

“Jonathan Leddy is one who may surprise a few people as he is a smashing footballer. He is one that we have had to entice back to a game that he had fell out of love with but he is enjoying training and has done well.

“On top of that, Blaine Burns has a big season ahead of him, he has been very good at Dergview and this is a big chance for him to play in the top division. while Niall Brennan has shown glimpses in pre season that he can cope with what’s expected of him at this level and these are the types of players we want to bring in.

“We maybe want to add one more defensively and I think then we will have cover in all areas,” he stated.

With the likes of goalkeeper Richard Brush and captain James McKenna providing more experience and leadership and with Niall Owens and Shane McGinty expected to improve further this season Dykes can be optimistic in looking ahead to the campaign.

He will though know that they will have to make a better start to the season than they did last year when it took them seven games to register their first win.

“The reality of it is that if you can get a good start you get a bit of momentum so if we can pick up a few points in the first week it will be great,” said Dykes.

The Mallards open with a home game against Glentoran on Saturday and this is followed by a trip to Mourneview Park on Tuesday to take on Glenavon before hosting Cliftonville on the Saturday.

“The first week is difficult with three games and that doesn’t help with a small squad like ours.

“We are just pleased though that we are at home for the first game of the season and hopefully we can make a positive start,” he said.

The Mallards had an impressive record against Glentoran last season but Dykes knows that will stand for nothing when the sides face on Saturday at Ferney Park.

“We did well against Glentoran last year but they have spent big money and strengthened so it will be tough. However we are at home, we are looking forward to it.”

The Mallards boss has an injury concern over McGinty but he states that if the midfielder is not able to take his place then it will be up to somebody else to come in and take their chance.

“At the moment we are picking up knocks, Shane McGinty is going to struggle for the start of the season but it is up to somebody else to come in and put their mark down for a starting place.”

And Dykes is targeting a positive start.

“We just want to get started now and hopefully we will get a big crowd and get the result that they want,” he added.