Worksop Town will be tested physically and technically when they face Sheffield Wednesday under-23s on Tuesday night, says Tigers boss Craig Denton.
Tuesday’s friendly at Sandy Lane against the young Owls promises to be a tough test for the Worksop players, who returned to pre-season training last week.
They have a trip to the seaside on Saturday as they begin their summer match schedule to take on Bridlington Town of the NCEL Premier Division.
And Denton says both games will represent different challenges.
“Bridlington are putting a side together that will be challenging in the Northern Counties next season,” Denton told the Guardian.
“They’ve already had a pre-season game in them.
“Sheffield Wednesday under-23s are full time professionals, who will be training every single day, it will be a difficult test for us but we want those challenges.
“They will be extremely fit, they’re young professionals and looking after themselves, and won’t have a day job, while our lads will be coming straight from work.
“It’ll be a good test for us both physically and technically.
“These two and the rest of the games will put us in good stead for the Evo-Stik next season.”
Tigers have had five sessions under the belts this summer and Denton has been impressed by what he has seen so far.
“We knew this pre-season was going to be tough,” he said.
“It was hot on Saturday so we’ve been mindful that the lads are looking after themselves before, during and after training sessions with water and the right foods.
“We’ve been looking at our style of play and how we’re going to approach games this season already so it’s a lot of information to take in but the lads are doing really well.
“They’re champing at the bit and can’t wait to play some games.”
There has been a balance between endurance work with and without the ball.
“We want to make it really competitive so there’s lots of team games, challenges, 2v2s, 3v3s, 4v4s and mini competitions,” said Denton.
“We balance that with making sure they’re doing their running. A lot of what they do is with the ball, a lot of passing and dribbling, we want to make it fun.
“The lads want to come to training and enjoy it. It’s nice and competitive but we have to remind ourselves it’s non-League football and the lads have day jobs.
“They’ll be going to work the day after so we need to be mindful of that. They’re certainly doing the work, the hard running with and without the ball.”
And added: “We’ll have a really tough pre-season but then just before the season starts we’ll all get together and have a few games of pool and something to eat together.
“I think that’s key at this level - the togetherness of the group.”