PAUL Crarey is starting to look more at defensive structure for his Barrow Raiders squad after an intensive first four weeks of pre-season training.

Since beginning preparations for the 2019 Betfred Championship campaign early last month, the focus has been mainly on strength and conditioning.

Raiders head coach Crarey is pleased with how the first month has gone and is now moving onto more gameplan work ahead of the first pre-season match at home to Oldham on January 13.

“It’s going really well, the new boys have settled in really well, and I was talking to Jake Spedding and he’s said he’s starting to enjoy his rugby again, so that’s a good sign,” said Crarey.

“As a group, we’re starting to gel a bit with structure and we did our first contact session this week.

“We’ve done a lot of boxing and hills, but we’ve got to do a lot of defensive work now and start to build up towards the end of this month, and the start of January when we start our pre-season fixtures.”

Aside from Jono Smith picking up a slight calf strain, there are no injury concerns troubling the Barrow squad, while Jarrad Stack, Luke Cresswell and Shane Toal are making good progress after long-term absences.

Crarey is wary of pushing the squad too hard though, with programmes in place for anyone who does suffer an injury.

“You’ve got to simulate games to get them ready, so it’s always a big risk, but with the weights, strength and speed programmes, hopefully you do enough to protect them,” said Crarey.

“The physios are on-board and once they get a little strain, they pull them out straight away and put them on another programme.”