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Lichfield City FC boss says easy friendlies were never on the agenda as he prepares squad for a tough pre-season schedule

Lichfield City FC’s manager insists he doesn’t want his side to have an easy ride as they prepare to embark on a tough set of pre-season fixtures.

Jamie Hawkins is currently putting his Midland Football League Division One team through their paces ahead of their first friendly of the campaign against Chasetown FC on Saturday (July 7).

And with the likes of a Walsall XI and Bromsgrove Sporting to follow, it’s clear that City are not in for a gentle introduction to the new season.

“To get promoted from this league you have to be geared up and good enough for the league above,” he said. “So if we played six or seven from the leagues below us then that’ll give us a false indication.

“If we play teams at our level or above, then yes, at times we may fall short, but falling short against the likes of Chasetown, who are three leagues above us and narrowly missed the play-offs, will put us in a far better position to perform against teams at our level.

“It’s a deliberate attempt to raise our own standards.”

Hawkins has retained the majority of his squad from last season and has also seen interest from a number of new faces as the pre-season training has kicked off, despite the hot conditions.

He said: “The lads have started well and have come back with fairly good levels of fitness, so they’ve clearly looked after themselves during the break.

“It’s been tough during the unexpected heat, but they’ve still managed to get the work in during training so far. It’s been a good start and they’re looking forward to getting the games going.

“While we’ve bought one or two new faces in that I’ve targeted, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest there’s been from players wanting to come to the club.

“There’s been a large number who have approached the club and trained with us to try and impress.”

Although Hawkins has managed to secure some of his main targets to bolster the squad, he admitted that he would need to hold his nerve where other new faces are concerned.

“It’s proved a slow process for players I’ve actively gone after,” he said. “A lot of players at this time of year want to go and have a go to see if they can get in at a higher level of football, which is perfectly understandable.

“What tends to happen towards the end of pre-season is that players start to get a feel of whether they’ll feature or not with other teams. If the answer is no, then we might be the beneficiaries later in the summer.

“I’m not panicking. If the season started tomorrow I’d be happy because the squad is strong and we’ve got the likes of Dan Griffiths coming back from injury – and that’ll be like a new signing for me as I haven’t been able to pick him since I’ve been here, but he’s working hard with the physios to recover from his knee injury.

“I’m certainly feeling positive about the season.”

Lichfield’s home game with Chasetown on Saturday is a 12.30pm kick-off.

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