Nottingham Forest arrive at the New Manor Ground on Saturday as Ilkeston FC continue their pre-season preparations.
A 0-0 draw at home to a strong Derby County side last weekend got things off to a positive start, and Robins boss Kevin Wilson will be hoping for more of the same against Forest and also against Burton Albion who come to the New Manor Ground next Tuesday night.
Reflecting on Saturday’s clash with the Rams, Wilson said that although the match was all about getting players fit, he was pleased with how his side coped with such strong opposition.
He said: “These games are what they are, namely about fitness and preparing for the opening day of the season, looking at new players and also boosting the club’s revenue given the numbers we bring in through the gate.
“But I was pleased with the way we coped against a good quality side. We’d been able to work on our shape a lot more than usual given our daily training sessions so we were well prepared, and I thought all of those who featured did really well.”
Saturday’s match with Nottingham Forest will be the first match under the visitors’ new manager Stuart Pearce, and a strong side is once again expected for the match which kicks off at the earlier time of 1pm.
Wilson added: “There will be lots of interest given it’s Stuart’s first game and we’re expecting Forest to also field separate teams in each half.
“As time goes by we’ll be able to give our key players more and more minutes, especially with games starting to come up thick and fast over the coming weeks.”
Several new faces appeared for Ilkeston on Saturday including trialists who were at other clubs last season and even some of the new scholars recently taken in by the Robins academy.
Among the trialists was experienced midfielder Sam Togwell who was recently released by Chesterfield, as well as former Nottingham Forest youngsters David Morgan and Tim Hopkinson.
“Sam Togwell’s looking for a club and I think he’s also been training elsewhere this week, but we were happy to have a look at him and give him some valuable minutes,” said Wilson.
“It was a similar situation for some of the other trialists in that they’re evaluating their options at the moment but there is certainly a chance we may see more of them as pre-season goes on.”
Gary Rowett’s Burton Albion have been annual visitors to the New Manor Ground since Ilkeston FC were founded in 2010 and were narrowly denied promotion to League One following a play-off final defeat against Fleetwood Town in May.
Wilson added: “As with the other managers, Gary knows we’ve a good pitch and set-up and that they’ll have a good test where tackles won’t fly in and risk their players’ fitness, so it’s to both clubs’ benefit when they agree to come here.”
The Burton match will be the penultimate ‘prestige’ friendly at the New Manor Ground with Premier League newcomers Leicester City due to arrive on July 22. The Robins will then be on the road for their remaining friendlies.