Harrogate Town play their first competitive fixture as a professional outfit this weekend when they host Nuneaton Town and manager Simon Weaver says his players are “ready to go.”
The club made the switch to full-time status at the conclusion of the 2016/17 season and will kick-off their National League North campaign and a new era at the CNG Stadium at 3pm on Saturday.
And following an intense five-week pre-season schedule, boss Weaver feels his squad are primed to go out and make a winning start to 2017/18.
“I think the players are ready to go, they’re certainly keen and I feel that we are as prepared as we wanted to be,” he said.
“The lads have worked extremely hard in pre-season and the reason that they go through that is to make sure that they’re ready for the first league game.
“Obviously you always want to get off to a winning start, and it would be really nice to begin what is a new era for the club with three points.
“I think that if we are at it and perform to the best of our ability then we can do just that, however Nuneaton are a very good team.
“I watched them run a strong Coventry City side close last week so I know that we are in for a really difficult game.”
With a trio of former Football League clubs in York City, Stockport County and Kidderminster Harriers, plus Salford City and Darlington all likely to be vying for a promotion spot this season, Town will have their work cut out if they are to escape National League North, despite their switch to professional status.
Bookmakers are pricing Weaver’s men at around 16/1 to win the division, making them a solid bet for a play-off place.
And while the Town chief says that he expects his team to be “in the mix”, his players are under no pressure this season.
“There will be no big statements from me about us wanting to win the league, obviously it would nice, but what is important is that we improve on last season and take this club to another level,” Weaver added.
“This division is stronger than it was last season and there won’t be too much between the stronger sides at the top of the table.
“I expect us to be in the mix, and it’s not beyond us to be aiming for the play-offs, but it will take time to adapt to the switch to full-time football.
“There’s no pressure from the board in terms of where we need to finish and I don’t want to put pressure on the players.”