AS starts to the season go, Worcester City probably couldn’t have hand-picked a tougher opening set of fixtures.

Games against Altrincham, Gloucester City and Brackley Town in the first seven days of the campaign is about as tough as it gets.

Altrincham and Brackley were both in the play-offs last season, while a local derby against the Tigers is a tricky encounter at the best of times.

Of course, Worcester have to play these teams at some point but they can count themselves unfortunate to have them in such a short space of time to kick off 2013-14.

While he’s always been one to stress that there are no easy games in Conference North, manager Carl Heeley will no doubt have had a few other teams in mind for the start of August.

On the plus side, however, this opening triplet of matches will leave City under no illusions as to what standards they have to reach over the next nine months.

Barring a major upset, both Altrincham and Brackley should be in the promotion mix again as they both have strong squads and, crucially, financial clout to change things around.

Not that City have had that luxury in past, but this season will be a particular struggle money-wise as they are in exile at Kidderminster Harriers.

When it comes to Gloucester, which will see an early match-up with former Worcester full-back Tyler Weir, City will fancy their chances.

How they start this campaign will have a big bearing on the mood among fans for the months to come and there would be no better filip than safely negotiating this tricky start.