CHRIS BRANDON looked back on the Ibiza tour today and spoke of his confidence that Town will be big promotion contenders.
The 28-year-old midfielder, who netted six goals in his debut season at the Galpharm, played the whole 90 minutes against Coventry City and also featured for 45 against the Island XI as Town finished in third place.
He says the tour has been a great bonding exercise for a squad which already had tremendous cameraderie, but more importantly he feels it has proved Town are preparing well to make a big impact in the season which kicks off at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, August 6.
"The lads are as fit as fiddles and really enjoying pre-season," said Brandon, who has been joined by his former Chesterfield teammate Mark Hudson this term.
"Everyone has worked really hard and we are definitely going to challenge strongly this time.
"I've got no doubts whatsoever about that because I'm confident we've got the commitment and skill to be strong challengers and I know we will give it everything we've got.
"We came with a late surge to just miss out on the play-offs last season and I see no reason why we can't build on that this time around.
"We have shown what a good team we are against both Coventry and the island team and we just need to continue our pre-season progress and make a good start to the campaign.
"If we do that, then we are certain to be there or thereabouts come the end of next season."
Brandon has enjoyed the early-morning swimming sessions to ease the aches and pains of playing and training on a synthetic pitch at SD Portmany, and he feels the tour has been superbly organised by PlayHARD Sports and the Sports Council of Ibiza.
"Ibiza has been superb," he said. "It has been very hot, but I think that will serve us well when we start playing games in England next week.
"Our performance against Coventry was absolutely superb. Not one lad had a bad game and we were just gutted that we conceded from one of only a couple of shots they had in the whole game.
"The island side aren't the best, but they work hard and are always prepared to put their foot in, so they gave us a test and it's been a very good tour overall.
"In the first half of each match it's been roasting and then it's cooled in the second half, but apart from the pitch being a bit dodgy it's been good to get some football under our belts and to hear people saying how well they think we've played."
Town fly home in the early hours of tomorrow morning.