Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston is desperate to avoid another frantic close season recruitment drive as he awaits news on his playing budget for next season.
Off the field issues have stalled the experienced coach over the past two seasons, as delays over securing the club’s future resulted in his squad being formed just days before the start of the campaign.
Eagles are currently looking to reduce their off the field costs in order to present Aston a playing budget for next season, but in the meantime, the long-serving coach must wait before he can nail down contracts on potential targets for 2019.
Eagles are confident progress can be made behind the scenes, with Aston confirming he has a rough idea of what will be at his disposal, but the 50-year-old cannot afford another close season late show which cost his side vital points at the start of this season.
"I'll need to know soon,” Aston explained.
“I have a good idea where we are going to be roughly, so that means that I can work away behind the scenes.
"What I will need to do eventually is get players nailed down, deals finalised and agreed, so we can push on again so we are in a better place than we have been in recent years.
"I have people in mind who I want to bring to the club for next season, and maybe beyond.”
The current crop have now returned from their week-long break, with the Championship Shield fixtures commencing with another trip to Leigh Centurions this Sunday.
Aston would like to secure the club’s Championship status as quick as possible knowing their place in the second tier is key if they are to attract his top targets, whilst also to keep hold of some of their top performers for next season.
The Eagles chief knows he needs to strike early this time around, and he’s confident he’ll be armed with something similar to the current campaign.
"We are hopeful that the budget won't be far off where it has been this year,” he added.
“We are not quite there yet, but the work continues. Over the last couple of years we have been coming to the party late when all the players have gone. We need to be talking now and then signing some players up by the end of the season.”
Kick-off at the Leigh Sports Village this Sunday is 3pm.