Avenue manager Mark Bower says his players are itching to get the season underway at Tamworth tomorrow.
It has been 14 weeks since the final game of last season at Kidderminster, and the Bradford feels confident his players are ready for the season ahead.
“It’ll be a really tough one on Saturday,” Bower said.
“They had a really good home record last season, one of the best in the division, and I think that for all you train on 3G pitches, it’s a very different experience playing a match on one.
“It certainly isn’t the game that I would have picked for our first match, but equally we go into the match with a lot of momentum from last season which we want to carry on.
“Obviously we’ve brought in a few decent players who we hope will do well for us, so we are looking forward to getting started.
“Pre-season is a means to an end really, you just want to get it out of the way and be ready for that first game, and I think the lads are ready to go now and are just itching to get the season underway.
After four wins and a draw, Bower’s men were finally defeated in their final pre-season game against Altrincham last week, but the Avenue boss was happy with what he took from the game.
“The game was good for us as it gave us some things to work on,” he explained.
“If that Altrincham team that started against us was in our division, it would be a very competitive side so it was a good test for us.
“It was the perfect game for us perhaps to expose a few areas that we needed to look at, and that’s what pre-season games are there for.
“It was a good exercise for us, and the result probably just gets everyone back on their toes.
“Going into the season having won every friendly, you might have thought we were the finished article and we’re not.
“So that game last week sets us up nicely and puts us in the right frame of mind to go into the season.”
Avenue face a gruelling start to the campaign with a short turnaround to facing Southport at the Horsfall Stadium on Monday night, but Bower is confident the switch from Wednesday midweek matches won’t affect his players.
“Hopefully it will work out fine and we won’t pick up any injuries at Tamworth,” the Avenue boss said.
“Southport play on Saturday too so there’s no difference in the preparation time for either side, the only thing maybe not ideal is playing on the 3G.
“But we have got a lot of flexibility within our squad and we will be able to make a few changes from Saturday into Monday if we need to.
“But as a whole, the first two months of a season are hectic with games coming thick and fast, which will be a real test of our squad.
“We only have Shane Killock out injured so we have decent numbers going into these games, and we’ve got players who can play a few different positions too.”
Following the signings of Cameron Lyn and Lee Knight earlier today, Bower has 18 fit players to choose from for the season opener, and he is confident he knows how he will choose to line up.
“We’re pretty sure of the way we’re going to go on Saturday, going down to Tamworth to try and win the game,” he said.
“There will be a few debutants who we have brought in over the summer but we do have a very good idea of how we will line up.
“The way we play at Tamworth might be slightly different to the way we approach the two home games though.
“We have had a look at a few systems in pre-season, as well as looking at players in different positions, so everyone has got used to each other and everyone knows what we expect of them as well.
“We’re ready and itching to go, and can’t wait to see what the season has in store for us.”