When Ian Evatt took the manager’s job at Barrow AFC last year, he had little idea what to expect, a situation he describes as ‘chalk and cheese’ from the current scenario, where he has the vast majority of his squad already in place.

That is in contrast to Evatt’s early days with the Bluebirds, where they had to build a squad almost from scratch before the management team had a limited amount of time to implement a new playing style before the season started.

It’s not just on the pitch where things are looking more stable, with improvement works around Holker Street, including the Cross Bar, the changing rooms and the manager’s office, giving a feeling of freshness around the place.

Evatt has described AFC as ‘riding a wave’ at the moment and he is hoping he can use the feelgood factor around the club to build on last season’s tenth place finish and make a real challenge for the play-off places in the National League.

Evatt said: “It’s chalk and cheese from where we were last year - I think we had six players when I first took over last year and we had to recruit from what was left from July, really.

“That’s no disrespect to the players we had, but we didn’t really have the research or options to be able to go and choose who we wanted.

“This year, we’ve done that and this is very much my team and my squad. Every single player here now has either been re-signed by me or signed by me this summer, which is what I want.

“We’ve not got a proper team to go to war with.”

So far, Barrow have made five signings during the summer, with defender Patrick Brough’s arrival adding to the earlier captures of Morgan Penfold, Bradley Barry and Scott Quigley, as well as Dior Angus’ loan from Port Vale being turned into a permanent transfer.

The Bluebirds are set to bring in an as yet unnamed player on loan from Sheffield United, whose under-23 team are coming to Holker Street next month, before pre-season is due to get underway a week on Monday.

Bringing in players from the Blades has proved very successful for Evatt so far, with both striker Tyler Smith and left wing-back Rhys Norrington-Davies making great impressions during their stints last season.

Evatt said: “I’ve got a fantastic relationship with their manager [Chris Wilder] and their staff and they trust me with their players.

“It’s important that you have that relationship with these clubs because they have to be able to trust that you’re going to coach, improve and develop them the right way and we definitely do that.”