Preparation are almost done and Whitehaven’s return to the Championship is imminent.

On Sunday (3pm kick-off), Gary Charlton’s men will open a daunting 2020 programme with a home game against Swinton Lions.

It’s fair to say that Charlton will be more encouraged for the team’s prospects than he was a week ago.

The Ike Southward Memorial Trophy win over Workington Town did not leave him anywhere near satisfied by the performance.

But he was in much more bullish mood after Haven had beaten North Wales Crusaders 36-0 at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

“It takes a little bit of time but you saw glimpses of what we can do against the Crusaders so, hopefully, we can kick on for Swinton,” said Charlton.

“It was a good hit out for us and a polished performance considering the conditions.

"However, there are still plenty of things to work on at our sessions during the week.”

He was able to use 21 members of his 24-strong squad and has been happy with the game time that each has had in the build up to the new season.

“It takes a wee bit of time until we get everybody up and running but I was very happy against North Wales.

"I thought the lads really performed and looked good with the ball in hand as well at times.

"Now it’s about us picking the team for Swinton and looking forward to that but it’s going to be a hard decision.

“A lot of people put up their hands and they played some good rugby but we’ll have a look at Swinton this week and we’ll decide which way we’re going to go.”

Swinton completed their build-up with a 16-12 win over the Warrington Wolves Academy in a game which was played in a mudbath.

The second half did not produce a single point.

Their previous game against Rochdale was called off because of a waterlogged pitch, leaving the Lions a bit short on game time.

Coach Stuart Littler will be speaking to Darrell Goulding at Wigan Academy during the week as the two clubs have a dual registration agreement in place.

“I’m constantly in touch with Darrell discussing various players so we will see what is decided later in the week,” said Littler.

For the moment, though, Littler is happy that he has a full, fit squad for Sunday’s trip to West Cumbria.

Whitehaven fans will have the chance to quiz the coaching team ahead of the new season on Saturday.

Launch night is being held in the J. J. McKeown Bar (from 7pm) when the fans can put questions to Gary Charlton and his assistants Jonty Gorley and Scott McAvoy.

The Whitehaven players will also be in attendance.