Melton South’s new recruits are looking sharp on the track as the Panthers continue to build for the Ballarat Football League season.
The Panthers have been busy during the off season, looking to add more depth to the side.
Co-coach Ash Manning said there was plenty of good signs early on.
“All the recruits are training and looking sharp,” he said. “We’ve probably had 45 to 50 guys on the track, it’s just a matter of getting them all training together.
“Everyone’s looking good on the track, but everyone does look good in February.”
Former AFL players Farren Ray and Mitch Golby headline the Panthers inclusions, which also include Dillon Sharp, Reece Miles, Matt Sullivan and Dale Houghton.
Manning said Ray and Golby had been good at passing on their knowledge to their teammates.
As well as adding a number of key players, Manning said some of the younger players could continue to push for spots.
David Callus, Brody Sullivan and Jesse Geddes are training well, while Billy Sullivan is expected to push for a spot as well.
In a big boost for the Panthers, Mark Lynch will play on this season.
Lynch, who led the Panthers’ midfield last season, has moved to Queensland but will make the commute to play. Manning said despite adding to the midfield depth, they couldn’t afford to lose Lynch.
“We expect him to be a key player again,” he said. “We’ve got a good midfield with him, Golby, Miles, Sullivan, Houghton and Ray.
“We’d like another key defender but we think we’ve got most areas covered.”
Manning said with so many clubs signing players during the off season, it was hard to gauge where they sat at this point.
“It’s a bit of an unknown,” he said. “I’ve done some research and it looks like some of the clubs down the bottom end have improved.
“Our first goal is to make finals and then we’ll reassess.”
The Panthers will start the season with co-coach Brendan Fevola on the sidelines after he was suspended in the club’s final game last year.
The off season hasn’t been without drama for the Panthers with the club refusing to give clearances to contracted players Anthony Hibbert and Mitch Banner who have both put in to go elsewhere.
The Panthers are looking for under-19 players after a change of age groups for their junior teams.
The Riddell District Football League has increased its age group from under-16.5s to under-17s, meaning a group of players that would have gone up, will remain.
Meanwhile the club is looking for a practice match opponent for April 7.
Any club interested can contact Ash or the club.