COLWYN Bay manager Craig Hogg has been reflecting on his side’s pre-season and outlining his ambitions ahead of their return to the Welsh domestic system.

The Seagulls make their long-awaited return to competitive action on home soil with a trip to Gresford Athletic in the Nathaniel MG Cup first round on Sunday, which will officially end a 35-year exile within the English structure.

A host of new faces have been brought to the club to ready them for the challenges that lie ahead, and Hogg is please with what he has seen from his squad during their initial stages as a group.

He said: “Pre-season has gone well and I’m generally pleased.

“We round off the program with our final friendly against Crewe tomorrow night and then its down to the real business on Sunday against Gresford in the Nathaniel MG Cup.

“We are looking forward to starting the campaign and more than anything, we are excited to be a Welsh club playing our football back in the domestic game, here in Wales.

“I think it is going to be a great season for everyone who follows the new JD Cymru North division.

“I’m convinced there will be some huge games, some tasty derbies and some really big crowds which will be a fantastic advert for football in the region and the new look League.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes at our club, to make sure we are ready for our return to Welsh football and some of the work performed by the club directors and volunteers has been nothing short of outstanding.

“On the field, I feel the pre-season prep work has largely gone ok.

“We’ve learnt a lot about the many new players we have brought in and the hope is that we can take some of the good we’ve witnessed, during the last six weeks, into the new season.”

The Bay boss also claimed that the pressure has been taken off his side thanks to the support received by the board and the investment made elsewhere by challengers such as Prestatyn Town and Flint Town United, with Hogg adding that “finding out feet” will be the top priority throughout their first season back in the second tier.

“There is little pressure on us at all this season, which l admit is a strange position to be in as a manager,” added Hogg.

“For us It will be a case of finding our feet over the next couple of years and learning as much as we can about the league.

“That’s not to say we are here to make up the numbers because that wouldn’t be true at all. We want to win games of football and give the best account of ourselves that we can. But most importantly we want to learn and improve our knowledge this year in particular.

“We need to find out what it will take for our club to get promoted in the seasons that follow this one and that’s pretty much the priority for now.

“In an ideal world we would like to achieve a top ten finish and have a respectable run in the cup competitions.

“If we could do that, then we would see it as a positive return to Wales in our debut season, but that won’t be easy as this league is probably the most competitive division in the country.”

Hogg, who is about to embark on his first full campaign in the hot seat after taking over from Alan Morgan last term, is expecting Prestatyn and Flint to be battling it out for promotion to JD Cymru North, and he also highlighted a host of other clubs that could mount a title challenge if they got off off to a good start.

He said: “Both have been building to go up and I’m pretty sure one of those two clubs will be crowned champions this year.

“Rhyl and Bangor will push them very hard and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them up there as well, both have made good additions to their playing squads this summer to.

“Then you’ve got the likes of Llandudno, Porthmadog and Gresford who could well be the surprise packages and they will take points off everyone for sure.

“Fighting to break into the top eight to 10 places will be a challenge in itself, as will league safety and survival.

“Four teams look likely to be relegated and we won’t relax at all until our safety is guaranteed and at the earliest opportunity.

“Whatever happens this season we will enjoy our return to Wales and most importantly we will enjoy our football - we can’t wait to get started now.”