ANDY RITCHIE will crank up the countdown to the new campaign when Town head for Hucknall tonight (7.30).
Hot on the heels of the visit to Watnall Road comes tomorrow’s trip to Bradford Park Avenue (7.30), when the manager plans to give trials to Harrogate Railway pair Danny Lowe and Richard Marshall.
Defender Lowe, from Wakefield, and Gomersal-based striker Marshall, a former Leeds junior, are both in their early twenties and moved to UniBond League Railway from Liversedge, of the Northern Counties East League, midway through last season.
Both Ritchie and Town’s loyal travelling fans will be interested to see the pair in action against Avenue at the Horsfall Stadium in Wibsey, but the immediate focus is on the meeting with Blue Square North club Hucknall.
It’s Town’s third public run-out after last Wednesday’s 3-0 win at AFC Emley and Saturday’s 6-1 romp at Bridlington Town.
Ritchie used the bulk of his squad in each of the games, but there will be fewer interchanges tonight.
“So far, it’s all been about getting game time for as many of the players as possible,” said Ritchie.
“But for Hucknall and Bradford, there will be two more distinct squads, and then when we go to Rochdale on Saturday, we’ll be treating it in a more formal way.”
Ritchie, who has 23 senior players, will formulate his two squads after making fitness checks on striker Andy Booth (cut head), midfielder Chris Brandon (tight hamstrings) and defender David Mirfin (groin and back niggles).
Booth sat out the Bridlington clash as a precaution while Brandon and Mirfin were substituted after half an hour.
“None of them have a particular problem, but there was no point in taking any risks on Saturday,” explained Ritchie.
“Everything is geared towards getting the players ready for Yeovil on August 11, and given the tough training schedule which we have at the moment, sometimes rest can be as important as work.
“I’m pleased with where we are at this stage of pre-season, but it’s time to step things up, and with all due respect to Emley and Bridlington, Hucknall, then Rochdale, should give us tougher tests.”
Hucknall, whose player-manager is former Welsh international Andy Legg, will also be playing their third friendly after a 3-1 defeat to Peterborough and a 1-0 win over Matlock.