ILKESTON FC will welcome new Blue Square Bet Premier side Alfreton Town to the New Manor Ground this weekend in the first of a big pre-season friendly double.
The match comes just a year after Alfreton and Ilkeston Town were preparing for a season in the same division.
But now, with the Reds having been promoted and the Robins re-formed, three divisions will separate the respective clubs.
And Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson expects it to be a competitive encounter.
He said: “Both Nicky Law (Alfreton boss) and I are looking for the same things from the game, namely improving fitness and also trying to get an idea of our strongest players ahead of the start of the season.
“But, as with any of the games against higher league opposition, it will be a good test and we should learn a lot from it.”
Last weekend’s visit of Lincoln City saw the Imps win comfortably, but Wilson wasn’t unduly concerned with his side’s performance.
He said: “We planned all along to play with a 4-3-3 formation in the first half and then switch to 4-4-2 and I think we all learned a lot from the exercise.
“Lincoln were in the Football League last season while we had an Academy team. It would be very naïve to think that everything is going to suddenly slot into place.
“Now is the time to find out what works and what doesn’t both in a tactical sense and with regard to individual players.
“When we play the likes of Notts County, Lincoln, Nottingham Forest and Mansfield they are likely to be far stronger than us and the idea is to make sure that you take something from each of the games.
“I see the matches against teams like Arnold and Mickleover as much more of a marker given how close they are to us in the pyramid.”
Earlier in the day, the young Robins played two 45-minute matches against Nottingham Forest Academy, losing 5-1 to their Under-18 side and 3-0 against the Under-17s.
Meanwhile, another Ilkeston team was also in action at lunchtime, recording a 3-0 win over Awsworth Villa with goals from Tom Colclough, Joe Lomax and South African trialist Cameron Gunning.
The weekend’s action was followed by a trip to Arnold Town on Tuesday night, where goals from Josh Hill, Gary Ricketts and Andrew Osei-Siribour helped Ilkeston to a 3-2 win.
Wilson said: “We were 3-0 up with about 20 minutes left and once we made a few changes we let them back in the game.
“There are still things we need to do a lot better and the players know that, with some individual performances not having been what I expect, but my options remain open.”
Following the Alfreton match, Nottingham Forest are expected to send a strong side to the New Manor Ground next Tuesday night.
That should ensure a bumper gate and Wilson believes it will be a great experience for some of his younger players to come up against the quality the Championship side possess.
“Steve McClaren said he’ll bring a strong side as they’re facing PSV Eindhoven the following night and some of their lads will need 90 minutes, so it will be interesting to see how our lads cope,” he added.