DESPITE falling agonisingly short of a place in the National League North, Warrington Town chairman Toby Macormac has hailed manager Paul Carden as “the best signing he has made.”

In his two full seasons at Cantilever Park, Carden has led Yellows to consecutive third-place finishes and on Saturday, they came desperately close to the crowning glory of promotion.

However, their 3-2 defeat to King’s Lynn Town means they must plan for another season in what promises to be a highly-competitive Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Given the job he has done since his appointment in October 2016, Macormac says he would not be surprised if Carden attracted admiring glances from elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the chairman says planning for next season is already underway in earnest as they seek to secure the futures of their star players – some of whom have already stressed their desire to stay at the club.

“We’ve had some great players in my time – Ciaran Kilheeney shattered every goal record going and broke league records – but Paul has been the best signing I’ve made,” he said.

“I’ve no doubt clubs will come in for him as we’ve done some great things over the past two seasons.

“We’re not the kind of people to lock the kit room door and come back in July for pre-season.

“We’ll probably have a couple of days away from it then get the players in to look at the retention list.

“I need to sit down with Paul this week. He will have expectations himself.

“He’ll want to keep players that have been outstanding this year and they are going to want a justified wage rise.

“There’s a few lads on contract who I know he wants to keep and I know would like to stay.

“As soon as possible, we’ll get them announced and keep some positivity going.”

Ashton United and FC United of Manchester – relegated from the National League North – are likely to be among the favourites for promotion next year along with the likes of South Shields and Scarborough Athletic.

Macormac says if he was to set targets now, they would be similar to this season – a top-five finish.

“Ashton and FC United are coming back in, the likes of Basford, Scarborough and South Shields will be strong again,” he said.

“It will be a really tough season.

“Obviously we don’t want to pin targets down now but if we were to look at it now, it would be to try and get in the top five again.”