CRAIG Lingard believes the lower turnover of players this off-season is the way to build longer-term success at Cougars.

Keighley already have the majority of their squad on board for 2018, having tied players down on deals over the course of the campaign just ended.

By contrast, 16 players made debuts for the club this season and Lingard believes his side are better placed to hit the ground running next year.

The head coach, who made Doncaster hooker Ryan Wright his fourth new signing last week, said: “We can’t do what we did in the last off-season year on year as you end up at the same start point again.

“For me, you’ve got to keep 75-80 per cent of your squad year on year and make changes progressively.

“We identified what we wanted to keep and hopefully the seven or eight additions that will come in will benefit us massively.

“We can’t keep making double-figure changes year on year because you end up at the same start point and you are never going to progress. You’re always going to be around the same position.

“We’re hopeful that the people we have kept and the ones we are bringing in will make our start point a lot further forward than it was last year.”

Lingard’s targeted squad size around the 26/27 mark is slightly smaller compared with this season but the club are placing an importance on utility value in their recruitment.

The head coach said: “The players we are looking to bring in can play a number of positions rather than a specific one. They can cover several positions if need be in case of injuries.”

While his players can now enjoy a well-earned rest until pre-season in November, the current period is the opposite for Lingard. “It’s my busiest part of the year,” he admitted.

“People think once the season is done you can put your feet up but you are looking to get your squad in place, you are speaking to players, speaking to agents and looking to get your pre-season training sorted, so you are looking at venues.

“The next three or four weeks are the busiest part of the year.”

Lingard admitted the capture of Wright was an unexpected bonus, having already signed another hooker in Joe Lumb.

The coach was hoping to snap up one of those players but the club have managed to accommodate both and means they have three experienced number nines, with Nathan Conroy already at Cougar Park.