Dean Thomas believes Kettering Town are in for a “tough, mental test” when they head to Barwell for their penultimate pre-season friendly tonight (Tuesday).
The Poppies have just 180 more minutes of friendly action left before they travel to Potters Bar Town for the Calor League Division One Central curtain-raiser on August 17 with their pre-season schedule being completed with a trip to Stamford on Saturday.
But first up is a game at Barwell, whom the Poppies played twice in the Southern League Premier Division last season.
Barwell have since been switched into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League and Kettering manager Thomas knows his team are in for another stern examination.
“I think it will be a tough, mental test for our players,” the Poppies boss said.
“They have a number of good players and I know a lot of them so I know what to expect.
“But it is good for us to go up against teams from a higher level. It is another step towards August 17, which is the only date that matters.”
Thomas expects to have more of his squad available for tonight’s trip after a number missed Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Spalding due to a mixture of unavailability and injuries.
The likes of Jermaine Clarke and Chris Logan should return while Nathan Fox is also set to be involved as he looks likely to become the club’s latest signing.
Thomas added: “I am not going to get too carried away by the result at the weekend.
“We created a lot of chances but we had one of those days where we couldn’t put the ball in the net. Jake Newman worked hard and had five chances, including a penalty, but it just didn’t happen for us.
“We had a lot of players out of position because there were a few missing but my sole focus is on having the boys ready for the first game of the season. If that means leaving some with knocks out for the time being then that’s what we will do.
“To be honest, I just want the league season to start now. We want to get down to the serious business.”
The Poppies are holding their Season Ticket Collection Evening at Latimer Park on Thursday from 6pm where the new kits for the forthcoming campaign will also be unveiled.