JON McCARTHY believes Chester have ‘stolen a march’ on their National League rivals with their swift close season business.

Speaking for the first time since the end of the season on the Blues’ transfer activity, boss McCarthy was clearly delighted to have secured the services of strike duo Harry White and Nyal Bell ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and feels Chester are ‘ahead’ of where they intended to be in terms of building their first-team squad.

McCarthy is also pleased to have tied down a core group of his first-team for next season, with key components of his team including Alex Lynch, Ryan Astles, James Akintunde and Jordan Chapell having signed one-year deals, and two-year contracts awarded to Craig Mahon and Matty Waters, who put pen to paper on a new deal on Friday.

"We've got that core group who know what we're about and how we work, and I'm looking forward to getting back to work with them," he said. "We can be very pleased with what we've done so far. Remember, this time last year we only had three players, so we're doing ok.

"We're ahead of where we wanted to be at this stage. We stole a march on a few other clubs towards the end of the last season, with us getting to that 52-point mark with six games to spare we were able to get going with our planning.

"Bringing Harry White in was part of that, he will prove to be a good signing. We still want that fourth striker and we're looking at that.

"I’m pleased with the three young lads we've got on professional contracts, and the likes of Astles, Mahon, Akintunde, Lynch, these are all players I'm sure the fans are pleased to see have signed new deals.”

Chester have registered their interest in several players to bolster McCarthy’s squad but the 46-year-old manager admits the Blues must now play a waiting game in terms of finding out if their targets would be eager to talk about a move to the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium.

With plenty of spending power in and around the north-west based National League sides, McCarthy accepts it may be difficult to attract his number one targets but remains ‘comfortable’ with the budget he has to work with.

"We've gone out and registered our interest in a number of players," he continued. "We're now in a little bit of a spell where we have to wait and see as those players can pick and choose where they go.

"We've got some big clubs with big budgets around us and we've got to wait and see which ones get picked up and which ones don't. Then we can get to work on securing a few more players.

"We know that's where we are as a club, and we're comfortable with that. There's a few situations that will dictate what we can do and who we can bring in.

"But in general we're really happy with what we've put in place so far. I think we've got plenty of business done early and we've got that core of the squad signed on for next season."