BRIAN Dawson is definitely a glass half-full man as he looks to the future at Rakesmoor Lane.

Approaching four months in his role as Holker Old Boys manager, Dawson has had his up and downs, with his side suffering a patchy run of form which has seen them slide down the North West Counties Division One table.

But the one-time Barrow AFC striker remains full of optimism – both about Old Boys’ prospects for the rest of this campaign, and for the long-term.

As far as Dawson is concerned, there is no cause for panic. He knows the Stags still have plenty of breathing space above the trapdoor and enough games left to find the wins necessary to finish comfortably in mid-table.

He has been happy with his side’s performances in general, while admitting they need to show more cutting edge up front.

There are mitigating circumstances too. Holker have lost several key first-team players during his short reign. And the player shortage has been so bad at times that, despite being retired, Dawson has had to come off the bench himself a few times, including during last week’s 4-2 defeat at FC Oswestry Town.

“It’s not going so bad at all,” said the Millom-based boss. “The performances are there, but what we seem to be doing at the moment is struggling to keep the goals out and struggling to put the goals in. Other teams seem to be taking their chances and we are not taking ours and not creating a great deal of them.

“But what the whole club has had to deal with is losing a hatful of players, not just players, but very good players. We have lost six first-team players and when you lose that amount of players it’s tough to replace them with the same quality.”

The departing half-dozen he refers to are goalkeeper Jarek Bitner (now playing for Penrith), former boss Craig Redhead (Gretna), James Bonner (stopped playing), Sam Joel (Workington Reds), Chris Wraighte (moved to Australia) and Jamie Mellen (knee cruciate ligament injury).

“This is where we are at the moment, but we are planning for next year already,” he said.

“There is lots of work going on behind the scenes in terms of player recruitment, the ground, plus kit and tracksuits and stuff like that.

“We are all of the opinion that this year is a transitional year for us. It is what it is, but it’s just a case of getting through this season as best we can.

“Obviously we want to do well and, even when we have lost these games, it’s just fine margins and individual mistakes that are costing us.

“If we stop that happening, I’m sure we will be all right. Obviously we lost those six players, but we’ve still got a big squad and we can do the job.

“I’m not getting down in the dumps about anything. We will get through it .

“The bigger picture is I’m not here short-term, I’m here long-term. In two, three years we’ll see where we are.

“Hopefully next year we will see real signs of progression. We want to create an environment where the best local lads want to come and play for us. That’s the objective.”

Dawson goes into tomorrow’s home match against high-fliers Widnes hoping his side can replicate their performance in Cheshire during the early weeks of his tenure, when they battled for an excellent 2-2 draw.

“We did all right down there,” he said. “They are a very good side and they are making signings left, right and centre to push to go up.

“It will be a tough one but we will be optimistic as always. We went down there early into my stint and got a good result. If we can do it at their spot, we can do it at our spot too.”

Teams at home in the West Lancs League set-up tomorrow are Division Two clubs Furness Cavaliers, Furness Rovers and Swarthmoor, who entertain Hurst Green reserves, Garstang reserves and Blackpool Wren Rovers reserves respectively.

Big games in the Terry Clinton Memorial Trophy include FPL pacesetters Hawcoat reserves at home to title rivals Kirkby United.