ALLOA captain Andy Graham says he was gutted to be a part of the squad that was relegated and thinks the club have the quality to get straight back up.

Graham echoed the words of new manager Barry Ferguson by saying the club have the quality to bounce back and shouldn't fear any team in the league.

With a return to training scheduled for June 19, Graham can't wait to get going.

Asked about the team's desire to get back to the Championship, Graham said: "At the end of the day, that's part of the reason a lot of the boys wanted to stay because we wanted to get promoted back up. There's nothing worse than getting relegated.

"I know there's a perception that footballers don't care but it was a major part of the boys' [reasoning for] staying on: to right a few wrongs. We were part of the problem going down so we want to be part of the solution going back up so it was great to hear that from the manager.

"We know it's going to be difficult; there's a few full-time teams in the league, but we've been competing against full-time teams for the last two years, so we shouldn't be using that as an excuse.

"We need to be ready to go when the season starts."

A strong core of established first-team players have re-signed for the upcoming season as well as the three young players who made their own contributions.

Graham continued: "I'm delighted [that they've stayed], I want the best players in the team as possible. I was on their cases all the time, they're probably sick of hearing from me, but it was just a case of me wanting them all to stay because I know how good they are.

"The boys staying was brilliant, especially the likes of Scougs [Stefan Scougall], it would have been easy for him to go and take another offer but he enjoyed it at Alloa. He didn't play as much as he'd have hoped for and, in my opinion, if he can stay injury free, I think he could be one of the best players in the league.

"Guys like Alan Trouten," he added. "I think people overlook his contribution, I think it's 40 goals in 99 appearances, which is a brilliant goal record for someone who's not a striker.

"Again, a brilliant one to keep, and the rest are all the same: Robbo [Jon Robertson], Taggs [Scott Taggart], Kev [Cawley], Neilly [Parry], even the younger ones I'd like to think they'll kick on this year. Lucas [Williamson], Cammy [O'Donnell] and big Liam [Evans], they'll be at a level that'll hopefully bring them on and get them more game time."

Graham mentioned the new manager is looking to add real quality in his signings instead of bringing players in for the sake of it, and hopes the younger players take the chance that will bring.

He continued: "That'll give an opportunity to Cammy, Lucas, Liam, big Nicky [Jamieson] and it's down to them to take it.

"You only need to add a few in there and you've got a pretty decent side that should be capable of competing at the top."

It's clear Graham has had a disappointing couple of seasons through injury and relegation, but he's looking ahead to what will hopefully be a successful season.

He continued: "I was gutted to be out as long as I was and even more gutted to play a part in us getting relegated. Most pleasing thing for me was getting back and playing games. I'm looking forward to getting a pre-season in me.

"A lot of people were asking if that was me done [after last season]: absolutely not, no chance. I feel like I've got a lot to offer still, and I'd like to think that's captaining the club back to the Championship, that's certainly my aim."