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City will relish Premier challenge in warm-up
10:00am Saturday 14th July 2012 in Blue Square Conference North Table & Results By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
ASSISTANT manager Matt Gardiner believes games against two Premier League teams mark out Worcester City’s pre-season fixture list as one of the best in recent times.
City kick off their eight-match warm-up programme at Midland Alliance side Stratford Town today (3pm) as they return to action for the first time since April 28.
But, following the trip to Knights Lane, Worcester take on Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion as they build towards the new Blue Square Bet North campaign.
Although Villa and West Brom are unlikely to field high-profile players, their presence at St George’s Lane is a feather in the cap for City.
The Baggies visit on Tuesday (7.45pm), followed by their West Midlands rivals seven days later, and large crowds are expected for both fixtures.
Gardiner said: “We are really fortunate to get Villa here because they are only going to three other non-League clubs. If we can do a good job, we have got a chance of getting them back next year.
"It’s the last season at St George’s Lane and we want to get off to a positive start and get the fans in to give us a kick-start to the season.
“I would like to think it’s one of the strongest pre-season programmes we have had.”
Next Saturday, City host Hereford United, fresh from their relegation from the Football League, and League One newcomers Shrewsbury Town are the visitors on Friday, August 3.
Gardiner, who played for the Bulls under current Shrews boss Graham Turner, has called on a number of his contacts to get these games on and revealed it is not as easy as people think.
He added: “You have to start these processes now for next season, it’s not just a case of ringing up in pre-season.”