ANDY PREECE is “looking forward to every minute” of trying to keep Southport in the National League.

Former Airbus boss Preece was handed the chance to maintain Southport’s place in the top-flight of non league football yesterday when he was confirmed as the replacement for Steve Burr.

Preece has been out of work since leaving Airbus in August just days before the Welsh Premier League campaign got underway, and the ex-Wrexham striker is ready to get down to work.

“I’m pretty happy,” declared Preece. “It is great to be given a chance. You know, or you hope, that if you work hard and are successful you will be given a chance and I’ve been given one by Southport.

“It is a fantastic opportunity at a well run club who are looking to progress. They don’t just want to stay up this season and it is great that they want me to be involved because I want to be involved.

“They see me as the right person and I am looking forward to taking on a massive job.

“I’ve worked hard to get this opportunity and Southport recognise that. I now need to prove to them that they’ve made the right decision.”

Southport are hovering just outside the relegation zone, one place and one point ahead of fourth from bottom Maidstone United, and just four points better off than basement outfit York City, who like Guiseley, have a game in hand on Preece’s men.

The task facing Preece isn’t an easy one, but this is an opportunity he has waited a long time for and the ex-Bury boss isn’t about to let it pass him by.

“You don’t get a job where it is easy,” said Preece. “I’ve been in this situation in the past. There are tough circumstances to deal with in every job, that is pretty much a standard scenario.”

Preece, who was believed to be a leading contender for the job prior to the appointment of former Chester boss Burr, added: “Staying up is key and my job is to make sure we do that.

“It is not going to be easy because every game in the National League is tough, but we are out of the relegation zone, although the goal difference is a bit of a worry.

“We need to look after ourselves though and if we can get the wins I got when I first went in at Northwich, which is achievable, then I am confident.”

If Preece can keep Southport in the top-tier of non league football then the determined 49-year-old, who helped Airbus qualify for the Europa League on three successive occasions, won’t be resting on his laurels.

“We can kick-on,” said Preece. “Southport have big goals and ideas of where they want to go and I’ve got loads of ambitions.

“It is exciting and a great challenge.”

Preece cast an eye over his new squad of players for the first time as Southport entertained Blackburn Rovers in the Lancashire Cup last night.

There is a quick turnaround for Preece and Southport, who entertain Dagenham and Redbridge in the National League on Saturday.

“You forget how hard the job is,” said Preece. “It is constant, 24 hours a day with organising things, but I enjoy it and can’t wait to get going in the league.”