Stenhousemuir: Swift says the standards at the club are 'going up and up' ahead of pre-season opener

Stenhousemuir manager Stephen Swift says the standards at the club are ‘going up and up’ and that he would be comfortable starting the competitive campaign with his current squad.

Having finished just outside the play-off spots last season in League 2, the Ochilview boss believes a number of factors have already ensured they begin the season much better than they did last around.

The Warriors failed to pick up a league win until September and had to play catch up to the likes of Annan Athletic and Forfar Athletic.

"It is great to be back,” Swift said ahead of the friendly match against Berwick Rangers on Saturday afternoon in the Borders.

Stenhousemuir manager Stephen Swift believes his squad are in a great place (Photos: Scott Louden)

“For the first week of pre-season, I cannot fault the lads attitude.

"They have come in and gave everything, the application shown has been tremendous.

"It is a really good group and it is great to have a core who were already here before to be able to set the standards.

"We can build on that and it is just now about adding in the tactical stuff.

Sean Crighton is one of a number of experienced stars still at the club from last season

"They’ve done the running and fitness stuff.

“Can we build on what we created last year and get the new boys up to speed? That is the immediate goal.

"It is a young group we have signed with the likes of Scott Walker, Matty Yeats and Will Sewall.

"We’ve sprinkled that with Craig Bryson and Connor Brennan and is so important that they help out.

Stenhousemuir face Stuart Malcolm's Berwick Rangers in their first friendly match

"The senior guys like Sean Crighton and Nat Wedderburn can all chip in too.

"We have a great blend and the signings we have made are hungry and want to make their mark. They have the quality too.”

Swift admitted last season’s squad was probably a ‘little big’ and that this time around, having a smaller group will benefit the squad.

He added: "Trying to get that all to gel in the first season is tough.

I felt like towards the end of the season we got there, but it was too late.

"With the nucleus we have kept, I delighted to have this current group of 19.

"The group we had last year was a little big at times.

"We could go with that into the season feeling comfortable.”

The Warriors are in the final stages of having a new artificial surface installed, and Swift sees this as a big step forward.

He pointed to the club’s general direction as a huge selling point.

"The first thing I say to players is that the standards around the club are just going up and up all the time,” he explained.

"We will continue to improve that way and in terms of the pitch, it will help us with how we want to play.

"It will allow us to play an attacking style of football.

“Hopefully we can fix the home form that was so poor last year.”

Stenhousemuir face Berwick Rangers on Saturday away from home, with the match open to supporters who want to make the trip south.

They then play two behind-closed-doors friendlies against Greenock Morton and Dunfermline Athletic at home next week.

Rounding off pre-season for the Warriors before the Premier Sports Cup will see them face Darvel.