ANDY Preece believes his Worcester City troops are set up perfectly for next Saturday's Nationwide North opener.

City face a daunting first league game at Kettering as they start their long bid for promotion.

But a string of solid pre-season displays have given player-manager Preece plenty of encouragement ahead of the August 13 kick-off.

Worcester's 2-0 triumph over county rivals Kidderminster Harriers was the pick of the warm-ups, while clean-sheets were attained against neighbours Evesham United and League Two outfit Carlisle United.

"Pre-season has been ideal," admits Preece. "We've had a good mixture of games and we've worked hard in all of them, which has been good for players' fitness.

"All the strikers have managed to get on the scoresheet and we've kept clean sheets, so everything has been positive."

Although last season's top scorer Adam Webster and new-boy Chris Smith picked up slight niggles in the last fortnight, City have enjoyed an injury-free summer.

In the fitness stakes, only centre-half Barry Woolley is yet to fire on all cylinders after missing the first two weeks of pre-season while on honeymoon.

The early absence of the 26-year-old has handed Preece the opportunity to bring together a new-look threesome at the back with Smith operating alongside Des Lyttle and Shabir Khan.

Preece added: "It's important that everybody gets a good pre-season under their belts. It sets you up for the whole season.

"The only one who is struggling is Barry Woolley. He missed the first couple of weeks of pre-season because he was on honeymoon.

"It was nothing he could do anything about. It was one of those things, but you can tell he's a little behind now.

"You can see the difference. He is a couple of weeks behind the rest.

"Because Baz was not here for the first two weeks, there was no real option but to play Des, Chris and Shabir at the back. They were the only centre-halves we had.

"It worked quite well and it's important to get an understanding between the players.

"The more they play together and learn each other's game, the better the understanding will be.

"We gave Baz half a game at Evesham and he's made the odd appearance here and there. It's about getting him involved as much as possible."

While a selection dilemma exists in both defence and midfield for the opener at Rockingham Road, last season's formidable strike partnership of Webster and Leon Kelly is certain to be kept in place.

Preece, one of four strikers at the club, admits that Webster and Kelly are the club's number one forward duo.

But he has put the pressure on the pair, insisting both himself and teenager James Smith are hot on their heels.

Preece added: "Up front, the two places are up for grabs between myself, Webby and Leon. Smithy is going to come on as the season goes on.

"For what they did last season, Webby and Leon are just ahead of me. But it will be tight all season.

"Smithy and myself played a few pre-season games and we are just like any other striker. We want to play every game and score goals."