Captain Liam Hogan insists promotion is the prime objective for Oldham Athletic as they start the season on Saturday.

A strong summer recruitment drive at Boundary Park, allied to promotion for Wrexham and Notts County last season, has put David Unsworth's Latics among the favourites for a return to the Football League this term.

And Hogan says that is the aim of the dressing room as they look to pick up the momentum of where they left off with a six-game unbeaten end to last season.

"The mission statement will be for us to try to achieve those promotion places and we set out to do that in a very long season starting Saturday, knowing that we've had a good off season, and we will still be learning all the time throughout the season as well," said the skipper, who feels games against EFL sides Barrow and Mansfield provided a timely test in the last two friendlies.

"Barrow was a bit more of a physical battle. They moved the ball but they physically tested us as well and you're going to get that.

"You're going to go to some sides that will still see Oldham now as a big scalp and want to prevent us creating the chances that we created (against Mansfield).

"I thought we came on really strong towards the back end of the Barrow game, which is a positive, and again started and went through the first half especially against a good Mansfield side that are looking to push up the table in their league.

"For us we need to take on board all the positives, keep the atmosphere that's in there, the news lads who have come in have brought a real excitement to work at Oldham, mixed with the experience of being at the club like myself, managing expectations and having a successful team."

Latics begin the 2023/24 campaign by facing a Southend United team that were just pipped to the play-offs post in finishing eighth position, and Hogan knows that despite the off-field turmoil at the club the on-field ambition will be to go one better this season.

But the top seven is the minimum target that Hogan and co have set themselves, and the defender believes the club have recruited well in order to achieve it.

"I vouch that those players who have come in were definitely ones who stood out for me (last season)," he said.

"Wardy (Dan Ward) has shown what he can do when he gets in those little pockets, and with Shaun (Hobson) alongside us at the back we look really solid, and he can adjust whether we play a three or a four and he's been in that right back area for us.

"Kurt (Willoughby) comes on and adds energy, runs in behind, and we're a real mix-up of a team this year, and that's what you've got to be. You've got to be adaptable in this league. You've got to be able to change before games against different opposition and you've got to change maybe inside games as well and I thought Mansfield showed they could see what we were all about and in the second half turned it up a little notch and caused our shape a few problems."

Hogan, who has won promotion from the National League with both Salford and Stockport County, and so knows what it takes, added: "There's loads of learning for us as a group but we know that some of that positive work, we've seen that in training more and more often so for us we are going into the season in a much better position than we were last season."