GARETH Davies believes that the side that he has put together at Fairford Town are more than capable of challenging for honours in Hellenic League Division One West this term.

The former Malmesbury Victoria manager returned to Cinder Lane following Paul Braithwaite’s move to Wootton Bassett Town.

And the ex-Fairford player, while managing to hold on to eight players from the previous regime, has brought a handful of his old Malmesbury players to the club.

“Last year at Malmesbury, the average of the squad I had was under 20,” Davies said. “And this season, with a few older heads alongside them, you can see how much they have improved.

“They are like different players from what we had last season and I’m looking forward to getting the season started.”

Davies will kick-off Fairford’s new campaign with a visit from Shortwood United reserves tomorrow and while results in the pre-season matches haven’t gone the Cinder Lane side’s way, the new manager is pleased with what he has seen.

“The lads have all looked sharp,” Davies said. “We had our final friendly on Tuesday night and I’m pleased with the work that we have done.

“We are all prepared and ready for the hard work of what will be a long season.

“I’d like to think that we are capable of being there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

“Fairford have been up there for the last few years but never quite got over the - hopefully this could be the season.”

Davies also said the visit of the FA Cup next weekend when they entertain Surrey-based side Knaphill in the extra-preliminary round is just reward for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at the club.

He added: “It is great that the cup is coming to the club. The people behind the scenes do an incredible amount of work and they deserve this.

“I went to watch Knaphill last Saturday and I do think that they are beatable, so it would great if we could do that and go a bit of a run.”