Robins all set for opening pre-season challenge

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Kevin Wilson says his Ilkeston FC players are raring to go as they prepare for their first pre-season friendly next Tuesday night.

League Two side Burton Albion, who were defeated in the play-off semi-finals by eventual Wembley winners Bradford City, will be bringing their first team to the New Manor Ground for the 7.30pm kick-off, the first of five exciting home friendlies lined up for the Robins.

And manager Wilson says he is looking forward to seeing how his players are shaping up.

He said: “The lads have been training really well but you need match situations to get a proper idea of where you’re at, so I’m keen to get them out there against Burton.

“That particularly applies to the trialists we have been looking at because I want to see how they blend into the team in a proper game, which will help me decide if they’re right for us or not.”

Wilson believes the New Manor Ground friendlies against Albion, Nottingham Forest (July 13), Leicester City (July 20), Rotherham United (July 24) and a Chelsea XI (July 30) will be matches for his players and the Robins fans to enjoy rather than be used as yardsticks for the upcoming season.

He added: “These home games are a great chance for the players to pit their wits against top quality players and hopefully in front of big crowds.

“I’m looking at the away friendlies against teams such as Coalville, Shepshed and Eastwood as being genuine markers as to how we are shaping up, but the home games will allow us to try a few things too, as well as be great experiences for the fans and a revenue boost for the club.

“I understand Gary Rowett (Burton manager) is bringing his first team and I think Forest will be splitting their squads with another friendly on July 13, so hopefully we’ll see some good quality players at the New Manor Ground over the next week or so.”

Meanwhile, Wilson says he is still waiting to discover whether winger Kane Richards will agree to stay with the youngster having been offered a new deal.

The Robins have made just two new signings so far, goalkeeper Rob Peet and defender Sam Craven.