NEW Kidderminster Harriers Captain Shane Byrne insists the team won’t be weighed down by the pressure of being among the promotion favourites this season.

Russ Penn’s men, who made the play-offs last season and the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, have been installed as the second favourites for the National League title by many bookmakers, behind only AFC Fylde.

It comes as Penn has made good use of his summer and made some key new signings – not least Byrne, arguably the best midfielder in the division.

He joins the likes of former Hereford favourite Tom Owen-Evans, midfielder Nathan Lowe, Nathaniel-Knight Percival and Yusifu Ceesay as new faces in Worcestershire.

But 29-year-old Byrne has played down any talk that being among the favourites to win the league will put undue pressure on the camp – insisting it’s not something that will matter to the dressing room.

"There's no added pressure there,” he said. “Leicester were 5,000/1 to win the Premier League and they went and won it.

"None of that matters. Things happen on a football pitch and change any minute - it's as tough for any team to win this league as it is us.

"We'll just be focused on one game at a time and that starts with Blyth away. We'll start from there.

"You can only win three points in [any] game so there's no point looking at it - there's 69 home points and 69 away points.

"We start on Saturday for three points and see where we end up at the end of the season."

Byrne himself knows all about challenging at the right end of the division. He was part of the Boston team that knocked Harriers out of the play-offs before being defeated in the final.

It was the Irishman’s fourth successful shot at the end-of-season play-offs, having been part of the Brackley Town side who were always in and around the promotion mix-up.

Of his move to the club, he added: "I had a fair few offers, but this is a great club.

"I thought if I left Boston and I was staying in this league, there was nowhere else I'd rather go.

"It was just whether I could make it work, having been part-time before and if I could leave my job.

"It all fell into place and it was a move I was keen to make."

Harriers begin the new 2022/23 National League North season with a trip to Blyth Spartans on Saturday.

There then follows a home double-header at Aggborough as Leamington and Curzon Ashton visit on Saturday 13th and Tuesday 16th respectively.

The club say they have sold over 900 Season Tickets for the campaign – a total thought to be their highest for a decade.