Heartbroken Derby County are the next team to have committed to sending their first team to face Ilkeston FC in a pre-season friendly.
The Rams were beaten by a dramatic last-minute goal in Saturday’s Championship play-off semi-final at Wembley, and their first chance to bury some of those demons comes on Saturday, July 5 when Steve McClaren will bring his charges to the New Manor Ground.
The fixture completes a trio of prestige friendlies arranged so far, with Nottingham Forest’s first team arriving in Ilkeston on Saturday, July 12 and newly-promoted Premier League side Leicester City also sending a squad of first team players on Tuesday, July 22.
And with another league club expected to confirm a visit to play Kevin Wilson’s men in due course, the Robins boss expressed his delight at the challenges his team will face.
He said: “It’s fantastic for the fans as they’ll get to see top players in action, and it’s huge for us as a club as the revenue generated from such games provides a real boost to the coffers.
“As has been the case before, we’ll have several away games lined up where the opposition will be closer in terms of quality to what we’ll face week in, week out, but these home games will also be very useful to us on many levels.
“I’m very grateful to the clubs involved for agreeing to send strong sides. I think Leicester will arrive just after their trip to the Far East and Derby will have only been back in training for a week or so. I believe the Forest game will be Stuart Pearce’s first in charge.”
In the meantime, Wilson is continuing to take care of ‘any other business’ following the completion of the Evo-Stik Premier Division campaign a month ago.
He is planning to sit down with the majority of his first team squad with regard to discussing their futures and is also keen to start exploring options in terms of new recruits.
He said: “We’ll have some decisions to make and they may not be easy ones but they’ll be made in the best interests of the club moving forward.
“We finished the season really well and that’s given us enthusiasm in terms of what direction we’ll now take.
“It’s no secret I’m after a 20-goal per season striker or two as that’s what we really missed last year.
“There are budgetary constraints as there always are but we’ve an appealing set-up here that good players will want to be part of. We’ve also not closed the door on Aaron Hooton who finished the season well at Carlton and who, if he can get fit, will be a great asset.
“The same goes for Rob Duffy, who did well for us in the last couple of months and is an intelligent striker.”
Meanwhile, the future of play-off semi-finalists Worksop Town looks uncertain after their sole financial backer Jason Clark left the club last week.
That signalled a resignation from the Evo-Stik League by the Tigers, although a request for that to be rescinded has since taken place, the outcome of which was unknown at the time of going to press.
Players have already begun to leave Sandy Lane, however, including key striker Tom Denton who has joined North Ferriby United.