JACK Wainman is in bullish mood regarding Eagley’s chances of a top-two finish and promotion from the Association Division, despite a mixed start to 2019.

Captain Wainman has overseen two wins and two losses from five games, with Saturday’s home clash with bottom side Daisy Hill rained off.

They sit behind leaders Atherton, Heaton and Darcy Lever, with Heaton visitors to Dunscar Bridge in a crackerjack clash this coming Saturday.

“It’s not been the best start, but it’s not too bad to have that reality check to show the lads that it’s not going to be as easy as we perhaps thought it would be after our first win against Astley Bridge,” said Wainman, the 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman.

“We lost to Darcy Lever a couple of Saturdays ago, and that was a bit of a kick up the backside.

“We battered Blackrod last Saturday, so the team talk after Darcy Lever went down well.

"It was a close game, but we should be beating them with the team we have. There was a bit of a rollicking afterwards!

“Promotion’s the aim, and I’m still confident it will happen.

“Once we get a couple of wins under our belt and confidence is high, I’m hoping there won’t be many teams in the league who can beat us, especially if everyone’s performing as they can do.”

Will Shuttleworth has returned from Farnworth Social Circle and has brought with him opening batsman Jake O’Byrne and fellow all-rounder Ryan Ayres as professional from Piggott Park.

Steve Foster also continues to take the new ball having returned from Bradshaw midway through last season.

This is Ayres’ first season as a pro. Last month, he played for a Lancashire Leagues XI in a drawn two-day friendly against a Lancashire second XI including Matt Parkinson.

Wainman said: “One of the big things this year I think is that teams have heard we’ve signed a couple and aren’t turning up thinking, ‘Oh it’s Eagley, we’ll roll them over’. They know they’re going to have to compete well to stand a chance of beating us.

“Overall, I just think we’ve got a better energy about ourselves, although we do need to improve our fielding, which was so good last year.

“Ryan’s a very good player.

“I like the fact he’s got really involved with everyone at the club. Because he’s a young lad, the same age as me, the other young lads can go and speak to him about the game.

“I don’t think there’s a bowler like him in our league. He’s got so many different variations. He swings it both ways.

“Batting wise, there’s no stopping him once he gets going. He can play 360 degrees around the pitch, and he’s particularly dangerous at our ground with short boundaries on both sides.

“It must be difficult for him being a young lad as pro, but he’s dealing with it all really well.

“Will Shutt’s also batting brilliantly. Once he’s in, he never looks like getting out.

“The two James’, Fallows and Richards, have always bowled really well when they’ve come on first or second change. I could open with them if I wanted to.

“Everyone has done something so far, which is a good sign.”