NEW Saints boss Scott Ruscoe is looking forward to the prospect of retaining the JD Welsh Premier title for the first time as manager when their campaign kicks off on Sunday.

TNS host Barry Town United in their league opener on Sunday, three days after their Europa League clash with FC Midtjylland in Cardiff.

The Oswestry club are chasing an eighth straight league title but Ruscoe is adamant his stars will not be carrying a European hangover into the season opener.

“It’s good to be defending my first league as manager,” said Ruscoe. “The league is our priority.

“We can have these adventures in Europe but we’re at the point in Europe where we’ve earned more money than before.

“These next two games in Europe has people saying we’re not going to get through but let’s have a look at that first.

“After Thursday our main point of concern for us is the start of the season and we won’t be taking Barry for granted. They beat us at home last season and always give us a tough test.

“I think the challenge this season will come from Connahs Quay now that Bangor City have dropped out of the league but Cefn Druids have made some good signings along with Bala Town while Cardiff Met always play good football.”

Ruscoe has shipped out nine players since the end of last season while strengthening with a crop of exciting but unproven talent including ex-Liverpool academy midfielder Kane Lewis and on loan Swansea City defender Ben Cabango.

“With the squad and the players we have got I think we can rotate more this season.

“We should be able to put a side that is as good as the next team, and if we make three or four changes, those players coming in will not weaken us at any point.

“In the past we may have had to have kept the same starting line-up because the back-up options we had to field may have taken something away from the team but I feel we have competition for places all over the pitch.”

The Saints welcome their old rivals on Sunday with a 2.30pm kick-off.