Steve Chettle said he was delighted with how his Ilkeston Town side performed in the 2-2 pre-season friendly draw at Basford United on Tuesday night.
Despite falling 2-0 down early on to a side from two levels above, the Robins battled back to earn a draw in their penultimate friendly match.
And Chettle says he is now facing a huge headache with regard to who he picks for the opening game of the season on August 4.
He said: “We were a bit sloppy early on and fell two behind but after that we were excellent and even if we’d ended up losing the game we’d still have been happy.
“This wasn’t a yardstick for the whole year but it was a good chance to see just how close we were to a step three club and in the end there was very little between us.
“Basford played very strong sides in each half so it was a great test for us.
“What it has emphasised is just how much of a headache it’s going to be selecting the best 11 for the opening day.
“It’s a nice problem to have, but everyone deserves a shot as things stand.”
With that in mind, Chettle is aware that several players could be left disappointed but doesn’t expect any departures quite yet which would lighten the load in terms of players.
He said: “I think everyone wants to stay and also to see how things develop in the first month or so with regard to who gets games, who may need to be replaced in the team for whatever reason and who can stake a claim through training.
“Once the side is settled it may be that one or two move on but we have a big squad and a good quality one so I’m very happy on that front.”
Ilkeston will next host York City in their final pre-season friendly of the summer on Friday night, the match agains the National League North side kicking off at 7pm.
Chettle said: “This game is a bit of a thank you to the fans really and a great chance for them to see how we are shaping up ahead of the new season on our own patch now that the pitch is ready.
“I expect a few players will get 90 minutes but again, there are plenty who deserve the chance to play and earn a place in the opening day side.”
Meanwhile, the MFL Premier League fixtures were finally released this week, with the Robins starting the campaign at home to Stourport Swifts on August 4.
That will be followed by a trip to Shepshed Dynamo three days later before a home double with Lye Town on August 11 and Long Eaton United on August 14.
Chettle said: “We play everyone twice of course but it’s nice to start with a home game and hopefully it’ll be a bumper crowd.
“(Assistant manager) Ian Deakin faced Stourport in the FA Vase last year with Kimberley so is fairly familiar with them.
“We know a bit more about teams this year so can perhaps prepare better but we’re confident we will be more than a match for most teams in this league as I don’t think the overall quality will differ that much from the division we were in last season.”