Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver said that Saturday’s National League fixture with Braintree Town cannot come soon enough for his players.
The Wetherby Road outfit have been out of action since their 1-1 home draw against Chesterfield on November 3, meaning that it will be three weeks since they kicked a ball in anger by the time they take to the pitch this weekend.
They were due to travel to Maidstone United last week, but the match was postponed due to international call-ups.
“The players are all champing at the bit, they need a game this weekend, we’re more than ready for it,” Weaver said.
“They’ve trained really well and we’ve got through plenty of good work, but such is the competitive nature among this group that they’re desperate to get back to it.
“It’s been pretty relentless stuff during these recent training sessions with the players all driving each other on.
“In the last few pre-seasons the lads have come back raring to go and started that first game strongly, so I’m not too worried about the fact that we’ve had this enforced break.”
Following a flying start to the campaign, Town had suffered a slight downturn in fortunes prior to their mini-break from action, winning just once in six outings.
With that in mind, Weaver said that he has used the past three weeks to undertake some fine-tuning.
“I wanted to re-iterate to the players the things that we are good at and the style of play that has served us so well over the last few years,” he added.
“It wasn’t anything too complicated. I want us to play a certain way and pass the ball more.
“We’ve only lost twice in 19 league games so there’s no need to be ripping anything up. The message was simple. We’re not going to forget what got us here in the first place.”
Like Town, Saturday’s visitors Braintree were promoted to English football’s fifth tier at the end of last season via the play-offs.
They currently sit second from bottom of the table having won just three of their opening 20 matches.
Two of those victories came at the end of October when Dover Athletic and Bromley were sunk, however they have suffered back-to-back defeats in their previous two outings, losing out to Aldershot and Solihull Moors.
"Every game at this level is tough. Every game. It took everything that we had to take a point at the death when we played Dover, another team who were struggling, here at the CNG," Weaver said.
"So, we know that we can't take anything for granted.
"We expect Braintree to set up with two up top and they've got pace and power in the final third, so we know they carry a threat.
"It will be a case of having to win the battle early on and earning the right to play. We might have to be patient, but we're ready."
Kick-off at the CNG Stadium on Saturday is at 3pm.
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