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PREVIEW: Harriers v Walsall
12:00pm Tuesday 31st July 2012 in News
Harriers face their toughest test of the pre-season yet when they take on Walsall tonight in a pre-season friendly (7.30pm ko).
With Saddlers boss Dean Smith set to bring a strong first team squad to Aggborough, Harriers will face a dramatic step up in quality this summer.
But while the Football League One outfit will provide a physical test, assistant manager Gary Whild is convinced the Blue Square Bet Premier side will be out to ask serious questions of the visitors.
Testing games such as Walsall and last Friday's clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers are also the perfect preparation for Harriers, who face promotion rivals Luton and Mansfield early on in the campaign.
"We've got a particularly hard start so we don't want to be going in half-cooked, we want to be making sure we go in ready," commented Whild.
"When these teams look at pre-season they choose to play us, that's a compliment to us.
"Quite rightly we finished sixth the last two seasons and we think we've strengthened again, so sometimes you look at a test for us, but it's also the opposition thinking they're going to get a stern test here."
Harriers will check on the fitness of keeper Danny Lewis, who missed Friday's win over a Wolves XI with an injured finger.
With manager Steve Burr away last week, Whild was in charge of the win over Wanderers, which was sealed by Danny Pilkington's 78th minute free-kick.
Whild said: "I think it was a pretty even game really and a good work out for the stage we are at in pre-season.
"It was good to see us keep believing in what we're doing and then in a tight a game a bit of quality won it for us.
"If you look for contributions from players, Danny has scored one and made one at Stratford and scored the winner against Wolves, so that's a massive contribution for him."
Fans got to see new defensive additions Ryan Austin, Cheyenne Dunkley and Exodus Geohagon make their home debuts on Friday and Harriers' number two was enthused by the signs of how they are working together.
He added: "You've got a nice blend of lads who've played at a higher level, who know our level and who are experienced as well.
"Last year we had lads aged 23, 24 and 22 and this year we've got guys who are 27 and that makes a difference.
"I think the lads at the back will get better and better. They've got to learn each other's games but things are progressing nicely but we've got a lot of hard work to do."
Fans who can't make the game don't have to miss out on the action as Shuttle Online will be covering all the match with our new live blog.
Sports editor Peter McKinney will be revealing team news and the drama as it unfolds. Fans who also want to interact can also follow him on Twitter @PeteMc78