Chester boss Anthony Johnson says he is ‘more excited than ever’ about managing next season.

After a near three-month break, the Blues return to pre-season training on Monday ahead of a second successive campaign in National League North.

Johnson and joint-manager Bernard Morley have targeted a sustained push for promotion next term and believe the club will be well-placed to challenge the league’s title favourites.

The adoption of a hybrid training model, along with a raft of new signings, have boosted their prospects and Johnson believes the club’s position is ‘worlds apart’ from the one they inherited upon their arrival last summer.

“In terms of where we found ourselves this time last year compared to right now - there’s a massive difference”, he said.

“Coming into the club blind, as we did, meant we started from a weak position.

“There were four of five players left from the last regime, with others here who were big earners and who had to be moved on.

“From there we felt like we were scrabbling around and trying to cobble together a team in a short space of time.

“We were calling in favours and practically begging players we’d managed previously to come to the club to get a team together for the pre-season game against Liverpool.

“As well as that, the club had no training model in place, there was no club physio and no clear direction here.

“But a year on we’re now worlds apart from that scenario.

"We’ve made some excellent pre-season signings early on, including getting Anthony Dudley on board which is a massive statement of intent from us.

“The new hybrid training model can be a big asset. We’ve got GPS technology and data systems in place to monitor our squad’s performance, and there’s a hunger among the players to succeed.

“We’re getting the infrastructure tight, so hopefully we can match the quality of full-time sides like York and Kidderminster in this division.

“The tools are all there now at our disposal and from mine and Bernard’s perspective we’re massively excited already about what next season brings.”

Johnson’s enthusiasm for the new campaign has seemingly been matched by the Chester faithful after strong season ticket sales.

Following the club’s promotional ‘early bird’ summer offer, sales are soon expected to surpass 1,000.

The Blues bosses have been left impressed by the loyalty of the club’s fanbase and hope that average gates will increase next season.

Johnson added: “The supporters are desperate for sustained success, we all are.

“Seeing so many fans commit to season tickets this early in the summer has been unbelievable and hopefully that sales figure will keep growing and growing.

“It’s hugely important to us to have the supporters on board, because they’re a massive part of this football club.

“Hopefully, they’ve bought into what me and Bernard have said and that’s all you can ask from your supporters.

“You don’t want them going away and saying ‘oh, they’re just saying the same things all the time and they’re not proving it’.

“We’ve made clear the improvements we want to see next season and it’s fantastic that they trust us to lead the club.

“It’s going to be an exciting season, but we know we’ve got to deliver on the pitch to put bums on seats.

“I think we averaged gates of 1800 last season, which is phenomenal, but if we could get back up to 2,000 consistently - it’s only going to help us succeed on the pitch.”