NEW Wasps captain James Haskell believes the squad this season is as strong as it’s been for years and insists a top-six finish is definitely within reach.

Haskell will take over the captain’s armband from Chris Bell, who will be vice captain with Matt Mullan.

The back rower, who has also agreed a new contract at Adams Park, said: “The squad is the most competitive it has been in years, with a number of internationals arriving, as well as exciting young lads who are keen to make an impact.

“We are back at the top table of Europe after last season’s win in Paris and we are benefiting from financial stability off the field.

“It really feels like Wasps are back and ready to achieve what we all know this team can.”

Haskell’s contract extension continues fine summer for the club, which appears to have recruited well and improved significantly the quality and quantity.

A raft of new signings impressed against London Welsh last weekend and Haskell is confident they have the ammunition to close the gap on the top teams.

He said: “As a squad, we are under no illusion about the hard work we need to put in to continue our climb up the table.

“The competition in modern rugby is so strong that there are no longer any easy games, but the top six remains our focus and I believe our squad has the ability and hunger to really be able to compete against the best teams in Europe.

“You saw the character and commitment of our guys against the stellar squad of Stade Francais.

“The work ethic, combined with a lot of talent and excellent coaching, should make us really competitive this season.

“The squad is full of potential, we just need to gel quickly to fulfil it.”