TOWN’S pre-season schedule could feature a showdown with Premier League Sunderland.
Roy Keane’s top-flight outfit have been invited to compete in the pre-season tournament being organised by Hartlepool which will also feature Stan Ternent’s team.
A yet-to-be-confirmed Norwegian club are in line to complete the line-up for the four-team event being held at Victoria Park on July 26-27.
It will feature two semi-finals on the Saturday then a final and third-place play-off on the Sunday.
Town are already taking on Premier League opposition in the shape of Arsenal, who will mark Town’s centenary with a visit to the Galpharm on Wednesday, August 6.
Hartlepool are also celebrating their 100th birthday, and the presence of Sunderland would add extra edge to their tournament.
The short trip down the A19 would fit in nicely with Keane’s existing pre-season plans.
Sunderland, who finished 15th in their first season back in the top flight, will be in Portugal the previous week, taking on Sporting Lisbon on Sunday July 20 and Vitoria Setubal on Wednesday 23, with both games taking place on the Algarve.
On the Wednesday after the Hartlepool weekend (30), they head for Nottingham Forest before hosting Ajax on Sunday, August 3.
Then it’s off to Ireland for games against Athlone (Thursday, August 7) and Shamrock Rovers, bossed by former Town defender Pat Scully, on Saturday 9.
That’s the first day of the new Football League season, but the Premier League doesn’t get under way until August 16.
Town last met Sunderland in a friendly during the summer of 2003, winning 2-0 through Jon Newby and Jon Stead in front of 5,144 at the Galpharm.
A meeting with the Black Cats would bring back memories for Ternent, who finished his playing career (in 1974) and cut his coaching teeth there.