ILKESTON FC will play their first ever official match on Saturday as Notts County come to the New Manor Ground for a pre-season friendly.
Manager Kevin Wilson says he expects to field around 22 players during the game, which kicks off at 1pm, as he takes a look not only at several trialists who have been training with the club, but also those have already signed up for next season.
All of which is sure to whet the appetite of the town’s football fans, who have been starved of first team action since the demise of Ilkeston Town in September.
Wilson said: “It’s the start of a new era and an important part of our build-up to the new season.
“We’ve had three training sessions already and there’s a real hunger among the players.
“They have the entire pre-season mapped out day by day so will know exactly what to expect, and Saturday is their first chance to express themselves on the pitch.
“I’m expecting to have a few more players officially signed up by the weekend so they will play a part, but we’ve had lots of interest from players who have been released by league clubs and who have joined us at training and seen what we want to achieve here.
“So we’ll have a look at those lads too against Notts County. I want them all to go out and get the ball down and play some football and enjoy themselves.”
Chairman Dave Mantle added that while the first league game in August will be very special, the pre-season period will also be one of great excitement.
He said: “The first competitive game is going to be special for everyone. But supporters are seeing Saturday’s match against Notts County as the start of a new era for football in Ilkeston and I certainly don’t want to dampen their enthusiasm.
“Overall, I’m very happy with the way things are progressing. It was far from ideal on all fronts that we had to wait so long to find out what level we would be playing at this season and that has hampered our preparations.
“But taking that into consideration, I think it’s true to say that we’re probably ahead of ourselves at the moment. There’s still lots to be done and our small staff are flat out, trying to tick off all the jobs.
“They won’t all get done for Saturday - but we’ll be ready to hit the ground running on August 13.
“The thing that has really got through to me is the buzz that Ilkeston FC has created around the town. I would like to thank people for the way they have welcomed SR Education into the New Manor Ground and with their help, Ilkeston FC genuinely can get to the heart of the community.
“We’ve only scratched the surface so far in terms of what we want to achieve but we can’t do it alone.
“We need people to lock into what we are trying to do - on and off the field - and quite simply, the more that come through the turnstiles and support us commercially, the more we will have to invest in the team.”
The Evo-Stik League Division One South fixtures are set to be announced on Wednesday, July 13.