Simon Weaver believes Harrogate Town’s start to the new Vanarama National North season has raised optimism of a strong challenge for promotion this season.
After five matches, Town sit fifth in the table and can improve that standing over a busy Bank Holiday weekend.
Weaver will take his squad to tenth-placed Chorley on Saturday before readying his troops for a Yorkshire derby against rivals Bradford Park Avenue on Monday afternoon.
Town have amassed ten points from their first five encounters, and Weaver said he would encourage his team to play with continued freedom over the next few weeks.
The boss said: “We have started really well.
“Everyone would have taken the start we have achieved so far.
“Performance wise, it gives us real room for optimism for the rest of the season with a down to earth bunch.
“I’m willing them on, because they can play to their strengths and play with freedom.”
Club captain Dave McGurk is likely to miss out on the weekend’s activities as he continues his recovery from injury.
The skipper had an injection in his back last week to ease his discomfort and he returned to training last Thursday.
In his absence, Danny Ellis and Luke Shiels have created a strong link-up at the back, conceding just four goals in five matches.
Weaver said his captain would not just walk back and displace the duo when fit.
He added: “You have to be consistent with players. If they are doing well, you have to be fair to them.
“The pairing at the minute are the players with the shirts on their backs because they are doing it game after game and putting in really good performances.
“I know that the standards have to be maintained over a long period of time and Dave McGurk will ensure that there’s that level of competition to push the two currently playing.”