The days leading up to the opening day fixture tend to be treated like the first week of the season by the football department, with training and preparation structured around that pending 3pm kick-off on the Saturday.
Speaking at his Thursday press conference manager Chris Beech confirmed that the squad, just like the fans, is counting down the minutes towards the return of competitive football, with his players ready and raring to go.
“The lads have been very professional, you can only commend them for that,” he said. “If you listened to Penrith’s manager, to Workington’s, Chorley’s manager’s comments to us after the games, Halifax too, Pete texted me the next day thanking us for the game, and was a little bit surprised I suppose in terms of how we are and what we’re doing.
“It doesn’t surprise me and I do want more. It’s only a demand and standard. Everybody generally does the same things, football doesn’t really change, but everybody has an opinion.
“It’s how you do it and how you commit to what you’re doing that makes the difference. That’s something I try and share with all my players. I have a great relationship with all of them and I want to make sure they can represent our community when they take to the field for all of us.”
Looking back to this same stage last summer three key players had been ruled out with injuries, making team selection a slightly more testing proposition.
“We do have a couple of doubts,” he confirmed. “I think Danny Devine’s going to miss out, he’s not ready.
“We had a behind closed doors game earlier this week and I’ve got a little knock with one of the lads.
“There’s also a little situation - hopefully it’ll be ok, but we don’t know - in terms of Zach Clough. He’s the only player not to have completed 90 minutes in pre-season.
“Against Halifax I wanted him to play 90 minutes, but he couldn’t complete it. We’ll have to see as we get to Saturday whether he’s available or not.
“We’re monitoring it and I’ve got to make sure I give him as much time as possible to make sure he’s ok. At the same time, it’s important you have players like that available, but I’ve got to make sure he’s available not just for the start and then miss other things.
“The plan was for him to do the full game against Halifax but he tightened up, wasn’t quite right, it was right he came off, and it’s right we try our best to get him right.
“You can almost get yourself a little bit tied up in trying to make sure everybody’s ready for the first game, but we’ve got to remember there’s 45 games after it, plus League Cup, FA Cup and the Papa John’s.
“It’s vital our players are in position to have a longevity to what they’re trying to achieve, not just all in on the first situation. We’ll have to see how that pans out with him in the next 48 hours.”
But better news was forthcoming when he revealed that defenders Morgan Feeney and Rod McDonald had come through 90 minutes of a bounce game against Blackburn on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s great news that they both did that,” he told us. “Morgan had a little knock, which he’s now over and Rod, to be fair to him, actually had shingles.
“We don’t know how he picked that up. He was off work and then back at work, but not feeling great. You could see he’s consciously tried to make himself fitter for the start of the season. It’s great he’s got through that, and that Morgan did too.
“It was a game that was about fitness and minutes for players, it’s part of the whole process of all the other games we’ve played in. Blackburn were brilliant with us, it was great we could play on a great surface and we thank them for it.
“In terms of the score or who scored or who did what, it doesn’t really matter, and I’m sure nobody will care about that at 4.45pm on Saturday. It was more about the workout and pitch time against a good side that we wanted.
“That’s what was important because I class this as week one of the season starting, and the thing to focus on is that we have a game on Saturday against Colchester.”