Kettering Town’s pre-season friendly campaign swings into action over the next few days.
The Poppies head to Uhlsport United Counties League Division One side Whitworth tonight (Thursday) evening before hosting Peterborough United at Latimer Park on Saturday in a match, which will be played over four periods of 30 minutes.
It will give Poppies fans a first chance to see their team in action under the leadership of new manager Nicky Eaden as the build up to the Vanarama National League North campaign clicks into gear.
Poppies boss Eaden is set to run the rule over a number of trialists at Whitworth as he looks to bolster his squad but he insists his players are ready to get back into match action.
“We will be looking at a couple of trialists in the game at Whitworth, it’s a good opportunity for us to do that early in pre-season,” he said.
“But on Saturday, I think you need to be as strong as you can because you know Peterborough will be a very, very good side.
“We are still short of a couple of central defenders and there are other areas that we are looking at.
“But we have one deal, which looks like it is agreed and we are in talks with others so there are things happening.
“It’s still that time of year when lads have been taking holidays but it looks like we will have everyone back in time for the weekend.
“Pre-season has changed. Gone are the days when you would have to spend the first couple of weeks trying to bring players’ weight down and things like that.
“Every player here has come back in good shape and are keen to get straight back into the football and they will now get that chance.”
Eaden, meanwhile, believes the Poppies will know early on in the season whether members of last season’s title-winning squad are capable of making the step up to a higher level.
Kettering have retained the majority of players who enjoyed such a successful campaign last time out.
The Poppies will kick-off the new season with a home clash against AFC Telford United on Saturday, August 3.
And Eaden added: “It’s a tough league, there’s no getting away from it.
“You only have to look down the list of teams we are up against and there are ex-Football League clubs in there. There are some proper teams in this division.
“We’re going to find out fairly quickly who, if any, in this squad are not ready for the step up.
“From what I have seen from the lads so far, I think they are keen to show what they can do.
“And, from what I have been told from last season, a lot of these players were a class above in that league. So it’s up to me to make sure they are ready to take that next step.”
The Poppies’ friendly at Whitworth will also be a memorial game for Maxwell Mallows, the son of former Flourmen boss James, who passed away recently due to illness.
Admission for the game is £3 and there will be a bucket collection for Great Ormond Street Hospital.