Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver urged his newly-constructed squad to enjoy the experience of playing in front of an almost full CNG Stadium when Leeds United bring their first-team squad tomorrow night.
Town have beaten Leeds 2-0 and 3-1 in the last two renewals of the bumper clash but United head coach Uwe Rosler has promised to bring a squad of first team players for the latest fixture.
Weaver said: “It’s a headline grabbing game and there’s going to be some great players on show.
“It’s a big game for us as a club to sell ourselves but the bigger picture is getting ready for next season.
“In the first game there’s always a lot of adrenaline for the players and there’s a lot of new signings that will want to impress. There’s no pressure on it, we just have to let the lads try and gel for it and go out to enjoy it.”
More than 2,000 tickets have been sold in the run-up to the match and Weaver anticipated an electric atmosphere from both the home and away faithful.
The friendly also marks the opening of the new Wetherby Road stand at the ground, with former Scotland international Gary McAllister formally opening it before kick-off.
Town have secured a sponsorship deal from Sterling Motors for the stand, which was part-funded by the Football Foundation.
“We know it’s going to be a big crowd, which should act as a huge carrot for all the players to show off the hard work they have been putting in during pre-season,” added Weaver.
“Both sets of fans have been very active on the phone and generating so much interest locally. It’s been fantastic.”
Town midfielder Ryan Fallowfield has been ruled out of the Leeds tie and will miss the opening two months of the season after breaking a toe in training last week.
The former Hull City trainee impressed enough on loan last season to make his move to the CNG Stadium permanent. The injury is the fourth leg break sustained by Town players in 14 months.
“We have had a lot of bad injuries over the last few years and this is just another one,” Weaver said.
“He wasn’t even going into a tackle, he just rolled it. It was so innocuous.
“It’s very unfortunate but he will be back stronger as he has the application to do it. There will be a lot of the season for him to play his part in.”
Meanwhile, Town have been handed a long trip south on the opening day of the newly-branded National North.
Weaver will take his men to Brackley Town, who finished two points above the relegation zone last year, on Saturday, August 8.
A Tuesday night fixture at home to Gainsborough Trinity will follow before Hednesford Town arrive in Harrogate on August 15.
On the opening fixtures, Weaver said: “Brackley are one of the clubs that are investing heavily into good players that they have had the year before. They have brought a lot of players back so that should be a tough one to start.
“It’s always a tricky away game there. Last year was a tough one but I know we will take a few fans and they will be behind us from the word go.
“If we can get off to a positive start, then we have two home fixtures.
“Gainsborough are an interesting one as they have assembled a very strong strikeforce in signing Marc Newsham and Nathan Jarman.
“They are obviously a local club and there are a few links between the clubs. Paul Beesley was there last year and there’s a few players that I know very well.
“With the optimism off the new stands, hopefully we will be on an upwards march.”