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North Wales Crusaders halfback Ben Stead believes his side should be aiming for at least the top six in League 1 this season.

Stead, who joined the Wrexham club from Coventry Bears in the off-season, has featured alongside Steven Roper in the halves in both of Crusaders’ pre-season outings so far.

With Ryan Smith currently injured and set to return to action, there will be plenty of competition for the number six and seven jerseys.

“Anthony Murray will know that he needs strength in depth and I guess that’s why he’s got all three of us here,” Stead said.

“It’s good to be competing for places and we’ve got plenty of cover should anybody pick up an injury.

“It can sometimes push you that little bit harder.”

It has been a couple of months since Stead linked up with his new teammates – and he is loving life at Crusaders.

“I’m really enjoying it as I’ve settled in well,” he said.

“I’ve played against Crusaders numerous times in the past and I know the club have a good ethos.

“I enjoyed playing in front of the fans, who are always loud and travel in good numbers, and I’ve known Anthony Murray for a while because of my time at the All Golds.”

It is now only a couple of weeks until North Wales travel to Workington Town in their League 1 opener, with preparations for the new season stepping up in recent weeks.

Stead added: “I feel a lot better now we’ve played Widnes as I thought we performed well.

“We were probably a bit hard on ourselves after the Swinton match, but there was plenty of improvement against Swinton.

“We know we still need to improve, but we’re definitely getting stronger and we won’t come up against a side as strong and fast as Widnes in League 1.

“We’re under no illusions that this is a tough league, but I think we all believe we can do well this year.

“We want to be getting in that top six and pushing for the top couple of places.

“We just need to make sure we piece performances together and we know we’re more than capable.”