Out with the old, in with the new. Preston North End’s re-built squad will get it’s first competitive run-out tomorrow when they face Southport at Haig Avenue.
It will be an almost unrecognisable team which takes to the field against Liam Watson’s Sandgrounders.
The 11 new signings are set to feature, while there could be a smattering of trialists on show too.
PNE boss Graham Westley is looking forward to giving his squad some game time after a demanding last 10 days on the training pitch.
He will ease them into action though, with wholesale changes set to be made at half-time.
Westley told the Evening Post: “The boys have been working really hard in training.
“When you’ve no match in front of you, it can be difficult.
“But tomorrow we start the pre-season friendly programme and that gives them something to focus on.
“I’ll probably try and field two completely different XIs in each half.
“So the Preston fans who go over to Southport will get a chance to look at plenty of new players.
“This is a decent fixture for us - it’s a good surface at Haig Avenue and Southport will be good opposition.
“I know Liam Watson quite well, we’ve had the occasional chat down the years and he’s made great strides there.
“His chairman Charlie Clapham was friendly with Phil Wallace at Stevenage, so there was always a decent bond between the clubs when I was there.
“Southport did very well in the Conference last season and I’m sure they will give us a tough game.”
Like Preston, this is Southport’s first friendly of the summer.
Port boss Watson will run the rule over a number of trialists – Chris Lynch, Steven Tames and Louis Barnes three who could feature.
There will be much expectation on Southport this year after they only narrowly missed out on a Conference play-off slot last season.
Such a good season came in the wake of a reprieve from relegation at the end of the 2010/11 campaign.
Watson said: “If I’m being honest, we shouldn’t have been anywhere near the play-offs simply because we are a part-time club playing in a full-time league.
“But we were in the top five almost all season, and it was only when we hit a brick wall towards the end that we dropped out of the equation.
“We probably had the smallest squad in the league, and the lads were playing part-time.
“Towards the end of the season we were going to places like Braintree on a Tuesday night, then the lads were getting up for work the next morning.
“This season we might come up against expectation.
“But my aim is to get to 50 points first and evaluate from there.”