Chester joint-manager Anthony Johnson insists neither he nor Bernard Morley will panic regarding their striker shortage heading into the new season.

With just over a week before the start of National League North, the Blues are without a recognised centre-forward following the recent departures of Ross Hannah (contract terminated) and Jordan Archer (joined Bury).

The need to sign a striker is heightened further by the fact attacker Matty Hughes – who can play up front on his own – is suspended for the first two matches of the new campaign.

The Blues are hoping to tie up a deal for former Football League striker Deane Smalley over the coming days, having started three of Chester’s pre-season matches, while two other trialist centre-forwards were also used during the 2-2 with Morecambe on Tuesday night.

“It’s the same answer that I’ve given you and that Bernard will give you, they’ve got to be the right player to come in,” Johnson said, when asked if the Blues are any closer to solving their problem up top.

“We’re working hard on it. They might be a player who becomes available that can score 25 goals, but if they don’t offer the work-rate that everyone else is doing then the whole pack of cards will fall.

“We won the league with a lad who scored 17 goals last year, Harrogate won promotion with a top scorer of 14.

“We need people chipping in all over the pitch. We don’t need a 30-goal striker, but we need players who are clinical and ruthless when they get in that position.

“I believe one of the trialists is that. He’s done it in the past and had a great move a couple of years ago and we’ve been chasing him for a while now.

“He’s a bit more understanding of what we need from him now, but he will be great up top. “We’re always looking to improve but we’re very happy with what we’ve got. We’re just looking for that player who can get on the half turn and bang, it’s in the back of the net. But I’m sure Morecambe are looking for one, Bury are, we’re all looking for the same thing.”

Johnson was impressed with the performance of Smalley’s trialist strike-partner in the pre-season draw with the Shrimpers, who has both National League and Football League experience, while adding Hughes has been ‘brilliant’ during pre-season and will surely push for a starting berth when available for his first game away at Blyth Spartans on August 11.

“I thought the two trialists worked brilliantly, one coming short, one looking in behind,” he added.

“Matty Hughes and the other trialist who came on linked up well together too.

“Matty has been brilliant, but the issue is he’s banned for the first two matches of the season and he knows that, so that’s why we can’t start with him.

“We’re gutted about it because he’s been outstanding, but we know that about Matty, he’s an outstanding player.

“You’ve got Craig Mahon coming on too, he’s looking sharp. All over the pitch we look strong, there’s competition, they’ve been phenomenal, and the work-rate is outstanding. It’s stuff me and Bernard have said since minute one, but they’ve taken it to an extra level. We’re getting stronger every single session.”