KIERAN Baggs believes his apprenticeship at Melksham Town has put him in the best position possible to begin a new era at the Toolstation Premier Division club this weekend.

Baggs has taken over the reins at Oakfields from long-serving boss Darren Perrin, having first arrived 12 months ago as assistant manager.

Perrin moved upstairs this summer to replace Dave Wiltshire as club chairman, meaning Baggs will be going it alone on the touchline for the first time in Saturday’s FA Cup clash at Horndean.

Although Baggs finds himself in the hot-seat sooner than anticipated, he is sure everything is in place to make the transition a success.

“The change has come a bit sooner than people expected, it’s come sooner than I expected too, but I’m excited and the boys are all ready for the start of the season,” said Baggs, whose side begin their league programme at home to Cadbury Heath on Monday.

“I had options with what I could have done after I left Trowbridge Town and could have gone in and taken over at other Toolstation clubs straightaway but I was always really interested in what was happening at Melksham.

“Being involved last year has really helped and I know what the boys are about and they know about me as well.

“When a new manager takes over at a club you usually see a big turnover of players too but that hasn’t happened. I wanted to keep the majority of last year’s squad together and luckily they wanted to stay too.

“Darren and Dave have been really helpful. It’s the things they have done behind the scenes that people don’t realise that have made the transition easy and as a club, we’re all looking forward to the season now.”

Perrin’s Melksham tenure was littered with silverware, with the team crowned Premier Division champions back in 2015 and the former Frome Town manager having also won three cup finals over the past four seasons.

Although the calibre of competition has risen again for the new season, Baggs is sure Melksham can still be a force to be reckoned with.

“When you’re a club like Melksham Town, you always want to do as well as possible in the league and I think top five is the minimum expectation again for us,” said Baggs.

“We have brought in some good players but I think the league will be tougher than ever this year, with the Southern League teams that have come down and the way some of the other clubs have strengthened.

“Unfortunately, we can’t do it like that at Melksham. Our budget is a bit different and we have to concentrate on local players from around the town but we’re really optimistic about what we can do.”