James Curtis has long since suspected Gateshead have it in them to return to the Football League.
Gary Mills, he says, has convinced him of as much.
The Tynesiders have produced a stunning run of form since Mills became manager in September, rising from fourth bottom to fourth top.
Tuesday’s goalless draw against Aldershot Town at the International Stadium was the culmination of that, leaving them in the play-off positions for the first time this season.
Bolstered by the crucial confidence Mills has crystalised among his team over the past five months, Curtis – whose side travel to fifth-placed Grimsby Town today – says the challenge now is to stay there.
“There’s been a big change since the gaffer came in,” said Curtis.
“Obviously, he’s given the lads massive confidence. Just look at how well the lads are doing, every one of them, and especially the likes of James Marwood and Marcus Maddison.
“They’ve maybe been inconsistent in the past, but they’ve got that confidence now and they’re changing games for us.
“He’s given us a structure to the team, and we know how we want to play week-in, week-out.
“He’s not bothered about the opposition, he just concentrates on us. So we play the same against whoever we play.
“We’ve got a tough game at Grimsby but the key now is to stay in the play-off positions and make sure we’ve got something to play for at the end of the season.”
To that end, Mills yesterday signed attacking midfielder JJ O’Donnell on an initial one-month loan from Luton Town, having already recruited ex-Sunderland striker Ryan Noble.
Joe Tait has rejoined Darlington 1883, while Dan Smith, Luke O’Brien and Adam Boyes have been made available for transfer.
For now, though, all the manager is focused on is today’s trip to Blundell Park.
“It’s a great place to go and play, there’ll probably be 3,000 fans there,” he said.
“They’re passionate, they want to get back into the Football League.
“They’ve got a good side, they’re picking up some good results. They’ve got half a dozen of the players I had at York (City).
“But although they’ve got two or three games in hand on us, we’re above them in the league now.
“It’s a chance for us to go and make that gap a little bit bigger by going there and winning onSaturday.
“I can’t wait.”