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Quest for promotion under way at Lincoln
KIDDERMINSTER Harriers head to Lincoln City tomorrow (3pm) as they begin their latest quest to win promotion from the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Steve Burr’s side have seen their challenge to reach the play-offs fall agonisingly short in the last two seasons following back-to-back sixth-placed finishes.
Pre-season has been mixed — the victory over a Wolves XI tempered by the Worcestershire FA Senior Cup final defeat to Stourbridge last Saturday — but hopes remain high at Aggborough of going one better.
Much of the squad was assembled early with defenders Exodus Geohaghon, Ryan Austin and Cheyenne Dunkley, midfielder Keith Briggs and wingers Ricky Shakes and Danny Pilkington all arriving.
Having keeper Danny Lewis back following cruciate ligament damage will also be a major boost, while midfielder Jack Byrne is fit after a hamstring problem.
However, Jamille Matt is still waiting for his application with the UK Border Agency to be processed and fellow forward Anthony Malbon (chest infection) is a major doubt ahead of the Sincil Bank opener.
It means Burr only has veteran Steve Guinan and former Stourbridge player Ryan Rowe to call upon as out-and-out forwards.
Right-back Lee Vaughan also starts a four-game ban following a red card on the final day of last season.
But manager Burr is ready and unfazed by a potentially tricky test on the road, despite the Imps finishing 17th last term.
He said: “Going away from home won’t change our philosophy, whether it’s the first game of the season or the last — we’ll want to win the match.
“But, when the fixtures come out each season, every club would look to open at home so they can get off to a good start and Lincoln will want that in front of their own fans.
“I was surprised, really, at how they struggled last year. We played them early on and I thought they were a very good side.
“They had aspirations to go straight back up and still have the potential to do that. I’d expect them to do a lot better this season.”