LAST season seems barely over but Accrington Stanley play their first match as they prepare for their return to the Football League tomorrow (Sat).
Coca Cola Championship side Burnley are the visitors to the newly named Fraser Eagle Stadium and the Conference champions are hoping for a bumper crowd as the two local sides clash in an early pre-season friendly.
And Stanley skipper Peter Cavanagh is hoping to play a part after what he hopes is a rapid recovery from an ankle operation.
"I can't believe it," said the 24-year-old who was plagued with the injury all last season before an operation in May.
"When I had an operation on my other ankle it took me three months to get back playing again but I have been doing all the pre-season training and, although it is not pain free, I do feel ready to play after just seven weeks.
"The specialist says I can carry on full training as long as I don't get a reaction so I am more than happy with that. I am hoping I have Wayne Rooney's powers of recovery!
"I thought I would miss the start of the season but fingers crossed I should be ready which is brilliant for me. I just can't wait to play again and all the lads are the same."
And the skipper says pre-season has definitely been tough. "We have had a lot of double sessions and a lot of the lads have been saying how tough it has been - especially in the heat! I have gone on to Factor 50 sunblock but some of the lads are also using it as a chance to top up their tans!
"But it has been a lot of running and gym work and probably the hardest pre-season we have ever had."
Left winger Gary Roberts could feature against the Clarets tomorrow despite Roberts missing the start of training when League One Yeovil made two bids for him, the last £50,000. Both have been turned down and Roberts returned to training with the Reds this week.
"Gary has come back and shown a good attitude and worked hard," said the captain. "He is still a top player and will still give his all and I don't think you can blame anyone for wanting to better themselves and play in the league above. Gary has got his head down and worked hard and all the lads are glad to see him back, they don't want him to leave."
Roberts still has a year and a year option left on his contract and Yeovil have said the deal is now a "dead duck" are are looking at other targets.
"Gary is still under contract and nothing has changed," said chairman Eric Whalley. "If he wants to get away, then he has got to perform well and it is up to him."
Boss John Coleman is expected to have a number of triallists on view - including ex-Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Alex Higgins and a striker from Scotland - as he looks to add to his League Two squad.
Meanwhile, many Stanley fans could get their first glimpse of the two new signings so far - French defender Julien N'Da and winger Sean Doherty. N'Da, friends with Reds midfielder Rommy Boco, did play in a friendly against Clitheroe and the Ivory Coast Under 21 international was then snapped up by Coleman.
"Julien has settled in well and is picking up the Scouse lingo," said Cavanagh. "We are, though, all going to learn some French then Rommy and Julien can't talk about us!"
One player who won't be able to play against his home town team, though, is striker Paul Mullin who underwent a hernia operation this week.
Elsewhere, Stanley midfielder Mark Boyd has made the switch to Conference side Southport, managed by former Reds coach Paul Cook.
- THE cost for the Burnley friendly is £10 adults and £5 concessions (KO 3pm).
- ALL outstanding contacts are expected to be signed this week.