Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey is hoping the players who had to miss the majority of the 2019 season will be able to return refreshed for his side’s assault at winning promotion from Betfred League One next year.

The Raiders’ two-year spell in the Championship was characterised by crippling injury crises that sometimes left them struggling to muster a squad of 17 fit players for some matchdays.

For long spells of this year, Crarey had to do without the likes of Ryan Duffy, Nathan Mossop, Martin Aspinwall and Declan Hulme due to serious knocks and has three of those players signed up for next year.

Crarey said: “Declan is a good professional and has a good attitude. He’s just been unfortunate with injuries and we’ve been unlucky because they’ve not been just niggly hamstrings or stuff like that.

“They’ve been ‘rugby-forced’ injuries - I think he ripped his bicep in a collision and other lads have fractured their cheekbones and it was just very difficult to manage this year.

“You could say they’ve had the time off now and recovered towards the back-end of the year and will be ready for pre-season and the time off might have done them some good because they’ll be fresh for next year.

“What Ryan Duffy is he’s a very smart rugby player. He’s been unfortunate with injuries and we’re going to get him back in good condition this year - I’ve spoken to him about that already and he’s keen.

“He’s not let off training and he’s going to come back in good condition, so he can have a good pre-season.”

It is just over a month until pre-season begins and Barrow have been able to keep the majority of their key players, while adding the likes of Carl Forster and Lee Jewitt to their squad, with others set to follow.

Crarey feels they can really hit the ground running this autumn, saying: “Pre-season is going to be tough this year. Last season, we had a lot of injuries before we started and had lads coming back from injury.

“We didn’t quite go as hard as we could have done because of that, but this year everyone will be raring to go and fit before we start.

“It’ll probably be early November when we start and we’ve already started having meetings as coaches.”