Kevin Sharp wants Worcestershire to play without fear this summer – and has a “good feeling” about the squad and the challenges that lie ahead in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship.

The County’s new Head Coach is gearing up for his first campaign at the helm after skipper Joe Leach and the players sealed a return to the top flight as Division Two champions last September.

He is in charge of a squad that is still young in years but more importantly experienced in terms of the amount of senior cricket under their belts.

The majority of the players have also tasted Division One cricket and in 2015 proved to be competitive at that level before narrowly failing to stay up.

Sharp, whose side visit Hampshire for tomorrow’s Championship opener at the Ageas Bowl, said: “We want to compete, we want to do well, we want to be a Division One side, and we want to build a squad that is capable of doing that year after year.

“That’s what these lads want, they want to play Division One cricket.

“I’ve got a good feeling about it. These lads have been around a long time now and the majority of these lads have played Division One cricket before.

“They know what to expect, they know that it’s going to be tough and demanding – but I think we are ready for it.

“After a difficult winter, we’ve got ourselves into a good place. There is a really good feel about the place and the club as a whole and I think we are all excited for that.

“I want these lads to go out and express themselves, enjoy themselves and play to the best of their ability and have no fear of failure and just look forward to performing.

“I think that’s the key for me. I think fearing failure is a bit of a negative.

“I’d rather the lads have a positive attitude and love being out there and wanting to perform in the moment. That is the key for me.”

Essex went up as Division Two champions 12 months ago and went onto lift the Championship crown.

Sharp said: “Anything can happen. Essex proved that. If something like that happened, it would just be a wonderful thing.

“Yes, it’s good to have goals. Of course you do. You want to win things. That’s why you play the game. That’s why you play sport. You want to win trophies. I think that goes without saying.

“The key for us is to make sure we get the process right on a daily basis, whether it’s 50 over, T20 over, red ball cricket, that we’ve got our game plans in place, that we know what we are looking to achieve and play it one ball at a time.”