Andy Peaks is looking forward to getting his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players “up and running” in their opening pre-season friendly of the summer tonight (Friday).
Diamonds travel to Newport Pagnell Town as their preparations for life at a higher level move up a gear.
Peaks has retained the majority of last season’s promotion-winning squad while striker Jack Bowen has returned to the club for a third spell.
Diamonds are gearing up for a campaign in the Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central and Peaks will use their first match action to give every member of his squad, as well as a few trialists, as many minutes as possible.
“It’s come around really quickly after a nice break and we have already put the lads through a few good sessions,” the Diamonds boss said.
“The first game will be about getting minutes into legs.
“I’ll be going there with virtually two teams and the plan will be to get a half of football into everyone and get them all up and running.
“I am pleased with the squad as it stands. It will always be the case that you will lose one or two, that’s just the nature of the game.
“But it’s great that we have been able to keep the majority of last season’s squad.
“And I am really pleased we have got Jack back. I have got a lot of time for him, he’s done well for us in the past and I am looking forward to working with him again.
“We have got a few others training with us and there will hopefully be the chance to add more to the squad as we progress through pre-season.”
Peaks, meanwhile, believes Diamonds are taking the “biggest step up” since the club was formed as the get ready for the new campaign.
A third promotion in six seasons has propelled the club into Step 3 in the non-League pyramid but Peaks is confident his team will be competitive in their new surroundings.
“We are in a nice situation in that I don’t think there will be as much expectation on us,” he added.
“Without doubt, this is the biggest step up the club has taken since it was formed.
“We are going to be up against some good teams and some big clubs but I am confident we will compete at the higher level.”