Play-Off push has to be Clarke’s main aim

There should be a good deal of optimism in the air when Bristol Rovers hold their annual Open Day at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon (midday to 4pm).

While pre-season results might suggest otherwise and there has not yet been quite the glut of summer signings predicted, Darrell Clarke has a squad capable of making a major impact on League One this season.

New to the division last season, Rovers took time to adjust and eventually finished a creditable tenth on the back of successive promotion seasons.

Fresh from signing a new contract, manager Clarke will settle for nothing less than a play-off position this time around and his hugely competitive streak is sure to fire the dressing room again.

A busy schedule of friendlies, including a clash with Hull City and a behind-closed-doors training match of three half-hour periods against Swindon Town during the trip to Portugal, should leave no general fitness doubts.

And, with Clarke in charge, Rovers fans know their team will lack nothing in spirit or pride in the badge.

The Pirates boss is still hoping to add as many as four new players to his squad by the end of next month, but can already reflect on a decent summer of recruitment.

Goalkeepers Sam Slocombe and Adam Smith have both performed well in the friendlies and, while Slocombe’s greater experience may earn him the vote for the opening game at Charlton, Smith has already shown enough to suggest competition for the gloves will be fierce.