WHITEHAVEN are closing in on a new forward as pre-season training steps up a gear ahead of the opening friendly.

A South Cumbrian forward who has been training at the Recreation Ground is close to agreeing a deal with the League One club.

Head coach Gary Charlton has been very pleased with the way his squad has been taking shape but he is still keen to bolster his pack.

“Everything has been going really well in the training and the players seem to be enjoying it and working very hard at the same time,” he said.

“We just need a few more bodies in before the season gets under way and it would be nice to have them in before the warm-up matches.”

Whitehaven are due to get started on January 13 when they will travel to Derwent Park for the annual Ike Southward Memorial Trophy game with their local rivals Workington Town.

A week later they will visit Craven Park for the second warm-up fixture against Championship side Barrow Raiders.

January 27 will be left free to allow the squad to recover from two derby games, for although listed as friendlies that is hardly the case when Cumbrian teams collide.

Haven are still looking for a home friendly which they hope to play on February 3, leaving a free week again before the real action starts on February 17 with a visit from Keighley Cougars.

Any doubts over that opening League One fixture not going ahead seem to have been dispelled this week by the return of coach Craig Lingard and general manager Steve Gill.

Both stood down while the players were in dispute with the new owners over non-payment of wages they had been owed.

Those have now been paid and both Lingard and Gill have returned to Lawkholme Lane with training starting on Tuesday, albeit with a reduced squad.

The next objective will be to remove special measures imposed by the Rugby Football League so that they can sign players.

Lingard says he has 16 players committed to the cause, with four more ready to sign when special measures are removed.