HUNGERFORD Town have been given Royal approval in the build-up to their Evostik League Premier Division season.
On Saturday, manager Bobby Wilkinson’s men kick off their pre-season campaign with a prestige friendly at newly-promoted Conference champions Barnet.
The Bees are managed by former Reading FC boss Martin Allen.
And Wilkinson also revealed that former Royals stars Alex Pearce, Mikele Leigertwood and Ian Harte have been helping out with the training so far.
Wilkinson said: “It is great for the boys to have that sort of experience and know-how around the squad.
“Mikele has been helping out with the strength and fitness training and he has been working the boys hard – he really put them through it!”
And Wilkinson said his side were eager to get up and running against Barnet at The Hive on Saturday.
He said: “The lads can’t wait to play at an unbelievable stadium and a brand-new pitch.
“It is a real feather in our cap to get such a game.”
Barnet are back in the Football League after a two-year absence, pipping Bristol Rovers for the Conference title on the final game of last season. They will pose a stiff test for Hungerford’s new-look squad.
Wilkinson said that the new players he has drafted in have fitted in well to the squad.
Only James Pilling has left from last season’s squad – and that is because he is taking a degree course.
New signings Stefan Brown, Kelvin Bossman, Mike Jones, Nat Jarvis, Matt Coupe, Craig Hill and Daniel Brown have already made an impact at Bulpit Lane.
Wilkinson said: “We have a stronger squad than last season – in fact this is the strongest squad I have had since I have been at the club.
“And they are a good bunch of lads as well. We go for a certain sort of player who will fit in with the lads because we want a good attitude and fight from everyone.
“Individuals do not win you games; teams win you games and that is what we have tried to achieve.
“We mean business this season. Last season when we got to the play-offs we were up against virtual Conference teams, but we will give anyone a run for their money with our hard work and dedication.
“We want to stay in the division – that’s our main aim – but we will be taking it week by week and game by game too and hopefully we will have a successful season.”
Hungerford are taking a technical approach to their training this season.
Last Saturday all the players were put through a Max Test at Park House School, where their heart rate and fitness levels were measured.
Wilkinson said: “The passion and desire is back already and myself and the players are working hard.
“We are in overdrive now and can’t wait to get going.”
Hungerford have a series of pre-season friendlies lined up, and they are back in action again on Tuesday.
They will take on National League (formerly Conference) South side Hemel Hempstead Town at Newbury FC’s Faraday Road ground, 7.45pm.
Wilkinson said: “I’d like to thank Keith Moss of Newbury for all his help in getting the game on.”