Ilkeston FC return to action this weekend with new head coach Gavin Strachan pleased at how his squad is developing.
The Robins host a Peterborough United XI on Saturday before Sheffield Wednesday arrive at the New Manor Ground next Wednesday night.
And having overseen several training sessions since his arrival, Strachan is now keen to see his new charges in action.
He said: “Training has gone really well but we’re ready now to see who has been listening to what we’ve asked of them and to observe our hard work in a match situation.
“We’re not exactly easing ourselves in with the quality of opposition we’ll face in our first few friendlies, but the games will provide a great chance to have a look at the players we’ve signed and also lots of trialists who have done well in training.”
Strachan ticked a major item off his wishlist this week with the arrival of Brazilian goalkeeper Evandro Rachoni de Lima.
The 25-year-old has experience playing in not only his home country but also Angola, the Ukraine and more recently England, and Strachan says he believes he has recruited a top quality player.
He said: “I worked with Evandro at Peterborough and we were in the process of trying to keep him there when we then left the club.
“He is a good age, will work all day and night and is a really enthusiastic character. He’s had quite a footballing journey and has sacrificed a lot, which will serve as a great example to our other players.
“He’s really keen to make an impact in this country and work somewhere where he feels wanted and is respected. He had other offers so we’re thrilled he’s come to us.”
Also on board is left-back Oliver Luto. The 18-year-old is another who has worked with Strachan before and the Robins head coach again believes the signing is quite a coup.
He said: “I rate Oliver really highly and he’s actually a player I wouldn’t have expected to get, especially as he was close to a move to Bristol City.
“He’s six foot tall, has a great left foot and is great at putting dangerous crosses into the box and I hope the fans will like him.”
With Peterborough’s first team hosting West Ham on Saturday it is expected to be a young side that heads north to Ilkeston, but Strachan feels that will be of great benefit to his new team.
“They will still be different to the sort of teams we’ll play week in, week out, but will provide us with a good physical exercise and a chance to look at what we’ve worked on,” he said.
“We may even field two different teams given we’ve lots of players to look at and a lot of games to play.”
Sheffield Wednesday then follow on July 15th. The game is listed as a first team fixture on the Owls’ website so a good crowd could be set to enjoy the game, one of the first their new coach Carlos Carvalhal will oversee.
Strachan added: “The game was arranged before their new coach was appointed but as it stands we think it’ll be a strong side that comes next week.
“We just want to get playing now. We’ve done lots of training but there’s nothing like actual games to see how things are progressing.
“We’re up against some great clubs to start with so they will be good tests for us, but the players are all raring to get going.”