IT’S been a case of out with the old and in with the new at Cefn Druids this summer.

Since the 2019/20 campaign was brought to an abrupt end, out have gone interim head coach Stuart Gelling and the likes of defenders Nathan Peate and Neil Ashton, winger Ramirez Howarth and striker James Davies.

In their place is a new head coach in Bruno Lopes, who has arrived from Portimonense, a new group of players and a new footballing philosophy.

“It’s exciting,” said assistant coach Jayson Starkey, who remains as part of Lopes’ backroom staff along with Dave Taylor.

“Pre-season has been about working on principles of play and a new philosophy.

“There’s been negativity from outside of the club, but internally we’ve switched off from it.”

Niall Flint and Sam Phillips have arrived from Newtown, with Ben Barratt (Buckley), Jacob Wise (Holywell) and Kieran Smith (Corwen) tasked with making the step up.

The experienced Alex Darlington has also headed for The Rock, with ex-Chester loan man Josh Green and midfielder Chris Azimall two more new faces.

The eight new signings - and existing members from last season - are being challenged to play their part in a new brand of football at Druids.

“Everyone wants to play like Barcelona and Manchester City, and we’re no different,” said Starkey. “It’s about trying to instil a confidence and belief in the players.

“We want to keep the ball on the floor, and although sometimes we know we will have to kick it long, we want the players to have other options available.

“It’s important to try and keep the players believing in the process and for them to not be knocked if they make a mistake.

“It’s a style of football we want to play and the signing of Alex Darlington, for example, was done because of that style.”

Lopes was brought in by Druids because he fitted the philosophy, and the new head coach has been doing his homework on the Welsh top-flight.

“Bruno has seen a lot of the league, he’s watched a lot of games,” said Starkey. “But he’s also got myself and Pixie (Taylor) who have been in the league for a while to bounce ideas off and get feedback from.”

First up for Druids is a trip to league new boys Haverfordwest County, who return to the top-flight after a four-year absence under Wayne Jones.

“What Wayne has done is fantastic,” said Starkey. “I know Wayne and it will be a tough game at a top facility.

“But playing the game behind-closed-doors might work in our favour. We played against Caernarfon a couple of years ago when they were promoted and the atmosphere was unbelievable.

“Not having their fans behind them might take some of the edge away from their game.”

Defender Phil Mooney is sidelined for Druids, who await international clearance on “one or two” of their new signings.

Former Druids boss, Huw Griffiths, leads Caernarfon into action against visiting Penybont tomorrow.

“We can’t wait now for the games to start again,” said Griffiths, who has snapped up Paolo Mendes from Aberystwyth Town ahead of the big kick off.

“It has been a long time, and challenging with preparations, but we are here now and we can’t wait.

“We want the Cofi Army back, they make it so challenging for teams to come to Caernarfon and we’ll miss them, but we’re playing for them and hope they’ll get behind us in some way.”

Aberystwyth Town begin their season at home to Cardiff Met, who have snapped up ex-Wrexham midfielder Mathew Jones after he left Flint to head to the capital to further his education.