All focus is on the opening day for Diamonds boss Burgess

Andy Burgess admits all eyes are now on August 6 for AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

Nathan Hicks has returned to AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Nathan Hicks has returned to AFC Rushden & Diamonds

The fixtures for the 2022/23 Southern League Premier Central season were released at the end of last week and Diamonds were handed an opening-day home clash with Needham Market, which is then followed by a trip to division new boys Basford United on Saturday, August 13.

Burgess’ team will travel to newly-promoted Bedford Town on Boxing Day and will host St Ives Town in their first game of 2023 on Monday, January 2 while their campaign will conclude at Kings Langley on Saturday, April 22.

But Burgess’ focus is only on that home game on the opening day and the next step in the building block comes with a pre-season friendly at Daventry Town on Saturday.

“We have still got three friendlies left and it’s all about building towards August 6,” boss Burgess said.

“With the fixtures out, it really gives you something to look forward to and that home game against Needham Market is now the target for us to be ready.

“It will be another tough test at Daventry this weekend.

“They are a decent outfit in the level below so it will be another good workout.

“We are still looking at players and I am not going to be pushed too quickly on lads I am not sure about.

“So it will be another chance to have a look at people. I am looking forward to it.”

One player who is on board at Hayden Road for the new season is Nathan Hicks.

The midfielder will be bidding to add to the 83 appearances he made for Diamonds across two seasons before he departed at the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

“We are probably going to be quite a young side overall so it was important we brought in some experience,” Burgess added.

“Nathan knows the club and the level very well. He’s a talker, he’s an energiser and he is a leader so it was a no brainer really.

“I am pleased we have managed to get it done. It’s an important signing for us.”