Ashington CFC begin a seven-match run of warm-up games on Sunday when they host Berwick Rangers at Woodhorn Lane.
But whilst home supporters will be hoping for a ‘Sunday best’ performance, Colliers skipper Liam Atkin would prefer to describe the impending contest as one which will present a ‘test’ for his side and is viewing the friendly as merely the first game towards the squad attaining full fitness.
The Wansbeck outfit, who were reporting back for pre-season training this week, will only have two sessions under their belts before the clash, which has a 3pm kick-off.
But Atkin cannot wait to get back playing again.
“It’s irrelevant that the game has been moved back 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday because at the end of the day, it’s all about the players getting match fit,” said the 26-year-old captain and defender, who is a football coach at the Newcastle United Foundation.
“Personally I think playing matches is a better way to get fit rather than training – and the Berwick game is certainly appealing.
“It will be a good opportunity to play against them and will be a test and because the Scottish League begins before our season starts, they will have reported earlier and will consequently be fitter.
“And as we don’t know anything about them they will also be an unknown quantity.
“As a group of players we need to be playing games because although the manager has brought three new faces in, we have also lost a number of players.
“However, I’m looking forward to the start and I’m sure the other lads feel the same way and are chomping at the bit as it feels like an eternity since we played our final game of last season.”
Reflecting on the previous campaign and eagerly awaiting this term, Atkin’s outlook will be for the side to be more ruthless and consistent.
He added: “I said last year that we needed to win something and we did by lifting the Northumberland Senior Cup against Whitley Bay.
“It certainly put a shiner on things – but we lost games which we shouldn’t have done and need to change that this year.
“We always perform against the so called big teams but we need to be more ruthless this time round against the so called weaker sides and win games rather than draw them or let teams off the hook.
“It was lovely to win a piece of silverware and especially at St James’ Park – but although we say it every year, we really have got to kick on.
“As a group we need to perform and to stand up and be counted.
“The majority of our players now have a lot of Northern League experience and everyone knows that we can do well as a unit – but we need to be more consistent as a team and we need 16 players all pulling in the same direction.”
Admission prices for Sunday’s game will be £4 adults; £1 for concessions.
The Colliers then travel to face Jarrow CW on Tuesday, July 9, where kick-off is 7pm.