John Dempster believes Mansfield Town have given themselves the perfect chance of enjoying a flying starting to the season.
Stags have enjoyed a solid pre-season campaign, which ended with just one defeat against Aston Villa, and have kept clean sheets in their last three outings.
And the experienced Mansfield centre-back believes it has given Stags the perfect foundations to build on as they look to kick off their League Two campaign in style at Northampton.
“We have had an excellent pre-season and have given ourselves the ideal chance of starting well,” said Dempster.
“The squad may be smaller this season, but the quality is there. We have seen it in pre-season and I see it every day in training.
“Players come and go, that is part and parcel of football. What is important is that Mansfield Town move on and bring in good new signings and that is what we have done.
“We now have a more tight-knit squad and the new lads have fitted in well, both on and off the pitch.
“Sometimes having a smaller squad can help because you don’t have the problem of players who are sitting in the stands every week and who are not happy.
“There is excellent competition for places in the defensive areas and we will be working together as a unit to get the best for Mansfield Town.
“Every player in the squad is going to play their part this season. Whoever doesn’t start against Northampton will have to be professional and be ready to come in and take their chance when it comes.”
Chris Wilder’s men escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last year following a final day win at home to Oxford after appearing to be doomed all season.
But, despite the Cobblers poor showing last time out, Dempster knows Mansfield will be in for a tough time against fast-improving Northampton.
“Northampton Town will be one of the teams right up there this season,” added Dempster.
“It will be a tough game for us, but our preparations have been spot on and we are ready for the game.
“Few people will give us a chance, but we are confident we can go there and get a result.”
Mansfield have not won away on the opening day of the season since 1990.
Stags will be without the suspended Matt Rhead and the injured Luke Jones.