YORK City manager Steve Watson has set his stall out for this season’s ambitions, with promotion the firm target.

According to the bookmakers, York are the favourites to win the Vanarama National League North title this season, with odds as short as 9-2 for them to top the sixth tier.

A trip to last season’s top-scorers and play-off quarter-finalists Altrincham awaits Watson’s side on the opening day of the new season.

On paper, it’s been a successful summer for City. Since their 5-0 defeat to Leeds United in their opening pre-season fixture, they’ve won six on the spin.

Bolton Wanderers, Notts County and Hartlepool United are all sides whom York have beaten during the summer despite being in higher divisions.

Perhaps more significantly, York have made several promising signings. Striker Dan Maguire joined the Minstermen after scoring 25 goals for fellow National League North side Blyth Spartans last season. Kieran Green, who contributed seven goals from midfield last term, also made the move from Blyth to York.

Added to that is the permanent signature of midfielder Paddy McLaughlin from Hartlepool and the experienced duo of Steve McNulty and Andy Bond.

The pair are both players with promotion-winning experience at this level, a target upon which Watson’s sights are set.

“The ambition is simple; to get out of this league,” stated Watson.

“That has to be our aim. It was my aim when I took the job at Gateshead, even if it was slightly unrealistic. That has to be your ambition as a manager.

“But that ambition is probably no different to the 21 other teams in this division and make no mistake, it’s going to be tough to achieve.

“We’ve had a great pre-season, but so have other sides. I’ve been to watch Altrincham over pre-season and they’re an excellent side and they were the top scoring team in the league last season.

“They’ve scored for fun over pre-season as well, so it’s going to be a really tough game.

“We will look after ourselves and, as far as I am concerned, everybody is raring to go and confidence is high in the group.”

As one of the league’s bigger clubs with one of the largest fan-bases, there’s plenty of expectation on York ahead of this campaign.

Watson, however, insists that this doesn’t entitle City to any short-term success.

“As a club, we have got a big fanbase and we have had a history of being in the Football League,” Watson added.

“But as the past three or four seasons have shown, having a big fanbase and being a big club doesn’t give you the right necessarily to warrant winning anything.

“You need hard work and sacrifices and the belief has to be there too.

“If you look at the two teams that went up last season (Stockport and Chorley), they were both part-time teams.

“We’ll let people outside the club, who think it’s going to be a walk in the park for certain teams, crack on with what they want to think.

“I believe we’ve got a good blend of youth and experience. We’re really up for the fight and really positive.”

Watson will also be enthused by the news that the entire squad came through Thursday’s training sessions unscathed by injuries, meaning the boss will have an injury-free squad to choose from.

Defender Tom Allan is the only player unavailable due to a suspension carrying over from last season.

“We had a full turnout on Thursday which was good, as that has been a bit of a problem for us during pre-season,” said Watson of the injury situation.

“We’ve had a few too many niggling injuries during the summer. But, touch wood, everyone came through it OK today.

“It looks like we’ll be going into the weekend’s game with only Tom Allan unavailable, as he’s suspended.

“Everyone has trained today, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will be match fit. As we stand, everyone seems to be over their injuries now.

“Lads like Paddy (McLaughlin) and Newts (Sean Newton) have come through the hardest part of pre-season having missed some of the matches. From that side of it, they should be equipped to come back in."