ANDY Preece believes the weight of expectation on Kettering Town's shoulders will work in Worcester City's favour tomorrow.

Both clubs, highly fancied to gain promotion from the Nationwide North, come together at Rockingham Road for an opening-day showdown.

It promises to be a dramatic start for City if last term's turbo-charged meetings with the Poppies are anything to go by.

A thrilling 2-2 mid-week draw at St George's Lane was regarded by many as the game of the season, while Worcester were run ragged in a 2-1 defeat in Northamptonshire as former City defender Carl Heeley celebrated his 500th club appearance.

City player-manager Preece envisages another feisty encounter with Kevin Wilson's side.

And he has also taken the pressure off his own players, claiming the demands of an expectant home crowd may put the strain on Kettering.

"I don't think it's a bad place to go first," explained Preece. "Kettering will have a big crowd, with a big atmosphere, and the weight of expectation will be on them.

"They have got a lot of expectations and their fans will be expecting them to get promoted. It should take all the pressure off us.

"I'd have liked a home game first, of course, but if we are going to play away from home, I would rather go to Kettering than travel all the way to Workington, Leigh or Gainsborough.

"Kettering are going to be up there. They are a decent side, there's no doubt about it.

"They have signed one or two really good players. Junior McDougald is someone they've picked up who is a really good player.

"Kevin Wilson has also gone for quite a lot of young lads. He's just added a bit of experience to his squad here or there. They are looking to improve on last season.

"But we are more than ready for them and we are good enough to come away with something.

"It would be nice to start off with a good result. It's important we get off to a good start and get things moving."

Preece will give competitive debuts to new signings Chris Smith, Graham Hyde and Des Lyttle, with the last two vying for the captaincy.

Nick Colley is fit to play after shaking off a toe injury, although fellow midfielder George Clegg is on holiday and unavailable.

Kettering signed six players through the summer, including former Dagenham striker McDougald and ex-Coventry City midfielder Andy Hall, and most will start. Forward Christian Moore, sold by Worcester to Kettering last month, is also poised to line up against his old club.

Pending an appeal, 32-year-old Moore is due to begin a 35-day suspension from September 5 following his red card against Rushden and Diamonds in pre-season.

Preece added: "Christian is a good player and he looked very sharp before he left. If he plays, we know he is going to be a threat.

"He can upset things. I'm sure he will have some influence on the game, whether it is positive or negative. He's a character who wants to win and he will try to get under our skin."

n Redditch United open their Nationwide North campaign at home to relegated Leigh RMI (3pm).