LOCKHART has joined a growing list of sides set to challenge for finals spots after luring Mitch Sykes and Andrew Emery back to the club from Turvey Park.
Sykes will return as an assistant-coach to Jordan Harrington and Jake Phillips while Emery will slot straight into a key position post.
Emery won the Hume league’s Rising Star award in 2016 before crossing to the Riverina league.
Phillips said the Demons were well placed to build on this year’s five wins.
“It’s good to sign up a few really good players and we are speaking to a couple of others as well,” Phillips said.
“Mitch is back after a year of coaching Turvey Park and he’ll work with Jordan and myself.
“Andrew can play centre half-back or centre half-forward so that’s going to be a big help.
“We’ve signed everyone from this year which is a bonus.
“Hopefully we can build on the base we have.
“We’re in a far better position than we were this time last season.”
Sykes, the son of club legend Warren, took Turvey Park from last to seventh on the ladder this year with his departure set to surprise Riverina league followers.
Emery regularly featured in the Bulldogs’ best as a forward and defender with the Demons confident he will develop into one of the premier players in the competition.
Oscar Haberecht and Dean Hannon have also returned to Lockhart.
Harrington was one of the premier players in the league last season with several Ovens and Murray clubs unsuccessful in trying to lure him back to the competition.
Phillips said the Demons hoped to blood more youngsters.
“We had a young side this year and, with our thirds playing off in the grand final, more are going to get opportunities which is exciting,” he said.
Few Hume league clubs have failed to make inroads over the off-season with Jindera and Brock-Burrum leading the way.
At least one club is hopeful of landing an Ovens and Murray premiership player in the next fortnight.