Ahead of Saturday's home game against Salford City, we spoke to Charlie Gregory of the Manchester Evening News to discuss all things Ammies...
- With Salford now in their second year in the EFL, how do you feel like they have adjusted to the level?
"I think Salford have adjusted well to life in the EFL. They were targeting promotion last season and were disappointed with an 11th-placed finish, so that tells you all you need to know about their ambition and the trajectory they’re on.
"They’ve shown that they’re not complacent in League Two and that they’ve got no loyalties to the players that have got them this far. They’ve been ruthless with the likes of Liam Hogan, Carl Piergianni, Adam Rooney, Lois Maynard and Nathan Pond, who all enjoyed promotions at the club, were held in high regard by the fans and have departed without much of a send-off, if any at all."
- Is automatic promotion very much the target for Salford this season?
"Yes, it’s almost now or never for the club given that this is their final transitional year before the salary cap takes full effect. After this season, Salford won’t be able to pay the higher wages that have helped attract their star players to the club.
"The Ammies have recruited well this summer and have added some much-needed experience to their ranks to replace the outgoing senior figures mentioned.
"Graham Alexander said his transfer policy was ‘captains and leaders’ and Ian Henderson, Jason Lowe and Tom Clarke will be important characters in the dressing room and are major coups for the club at this level."
- How realistic do you think that aim is based off the start to the season?
"I think it’s a big possibility. I have no doubt that Salford will be competitive this season - there aren’t many squads that have the calibre of players that Alexander has at his disposal.
"It’s been a tough start to the season and a five-point return is very encouraging. Salford have faced Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers at home, who will both be promotion contenders, and they’ve also had a trip away to Ian Holloway’s Grimsby Town, who will be a stern test for many this season.
"What will be telling for the club’s fate this season is whether their star players can remain fit. It’s a lot to ask of Darron Gibson, Jason Lowe, Tom Clarke, Ian Henderson and co. to remain fully fit for the entire 46-game season given their injury records and age. However, if they’re ever-present, Salford will be a tough side to break down and to stop.
- Who is the one Salford player to watch out for on Saturday?
"Interestingly, I’m going to go for goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky. It’s a bit of a left-field shout but he’s been incredible since arriving at the club, and it’s clear to see why he was interesting the likes of Celtic and Rangers this summer.
"He’s pulled off some big saves at vital stages of every game so far and it’ll be a struggle for most forwards in the division to get past him this year.
"In terms of outfielders, Ian Henderson may gain the plaudits for his goal return already this season, but Ashley Hunter has impressed from midfield with his direct playstyle and ability to influence a game."
- Finally, what’s your score prediction?
"This is a really important fixture for Salford - although they’re unbeaten in the league and have taken points off Exeter and Forest Green, they’ll be desperate for a win to push themselves towards the top of the table.
"The last time these two sides met, Salford came out on top here but that doesn’t really tell the story. Stevenage dominated the possession and had decent chances, and will be no pushover this weekend either.
"I’m going for a 2-1 Salford win though, with Henderson and Thomas-Asante on the scoresheet."
Saturday's match is available for supporters to stream. Please click here for more information.