ANDY Preece says his only target ahead of the new Welsh Premier season is a place in the top six.

"The plan is top six, it's always been the plan since I've been at the club," said the Airbus director of football. "It's obviously getting tougher, but that's the target and then go from there.

"It's competitive all the way down the league and I think it will be the same this season with the teams coming up. Cefn Druids will be organised and strong under Huw Griffiths and we played Cardiff Met a couple of seasons ago and they are a good side, I can't see a really weak team in the league, so it's going to be very tight and obviously one or two have got really strong. 

"Every game is going to be competitive which is great for the league."

Reflecting on missing out on Europe in the last campaign, Preece says: "We had two bites at Europe last season and, in both games, we could count ourselves a little bit unlucky. There was nothing in the Europa League play-off game, it wasn't the greatest of games, both teams nullified each other and it was always going to be something scrappy.

"And in the Welsh Cup final against TNS, for 30 minutes we did really really well. So it's just those fine lines really, we were very close to having probably the best season in the club's history and then ended up not getting into Europe for the first time in four years. The line between success and failure was really fine and I think it's going to be the same this season."

With Jordan Barrow, Chris Budrys, James Coates, Ryan Fraughan, Ian Kearney, Jay Owen, Lee Owens, Mike Pearson, Wayne Riley and Ryan Wade all leaving the Hollingsworth Group Stadium, it's been a summer of change.

"Looking from the outside people probably think 'God, what's happening at Airbus' because we've lost a few players but really we've probably lost only two or three that we wanted to keep or possibly could keep, so it's probably not as bad as it looks," Preece continued.

"The budget is not as big as what it has been and that's been the situation over the last three years that the budget's been cut. We've brought a couple in but we're still short of where we need to be.

"We've got or two more academy players coming through but you just never know when they're going to be needed. Last season James Murphy showed real potential but we didn't expect him to play as many games as he did. But he did that because of the quality he showed in the games and, when the injured lads came back they couldn't get him out of the team.

"Bala and Connah's Quay are in a stronger position than us financially so it can be difficult to attract players but that's the same in any league and you just have to deal with the hand you are given and make the most of it."

Photo: Preece discusses tactics with assistant Andy Thomas during Tuesday night's pre-season win over Denbigh [Matt Jones].

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