South Morang’s youthful core playing group has returned, as the Lions look set to be in the mix in Northern Football League division 3 title again.

A focus on youth has continued for the Lions which has been one of the standout teams in the competition in recent years.

Lions coach Gary Hall said that there was a lot of talent coming through their system.

“We’ve got some really good under-19s this year,” he said.

“There’s a good list coming from our under-17s, which has been one of the most successful juniors sides we’ve had.

“They’ve had a good pre-season and been training with the senior boys.”

Those young players add to a group that has been playing together the last few years.

Hall said things were ticking along nicely.

“We’ve had good numbers at training and the squad it pretty much the same,” he said.

“When you’re in division 3 you’re at the merecny of other teams in higher divisions. You can’t compete with the cap.

“It’s about loyalty and wanting to play with their mates. A lot have played football together in juniors and good mates in the team.

“We’re happy and grateful they’ve stayed.”

While they’ve kept most of the team together, there is a couple of big outs.

Daniel Caruso, who finished second in the league division 3 best and fairest award, has moved to Thomastown, while leading goal kicker Samuel Indian has made the move to Whittlesea.

On the other side, Jake Potter has returned from Montmorency and will slot into the Lions defence.

The Lions finished third last year and were and were knocked out in the preliminary final.

Hall said with another year under the belts of the that they would hopefully take another step in the right direction.

“We didn’t have to go back to scratch in the plan, so it’s about fine tuning now.

“I think we we be there abouts again. We just need some luck to come our way come finals time.

“We played Watsonia in a practice match to iron out a few kinks.

“We’re also facing Diamond Creek, which will be another good learning curve.”

The Lions start their season on April 6 away Kilmore.