Mansfield Town are revving up for five pre-season friendlies in eight days, including three against Championship clubs.
Sheffield Wednesday visit the One Call Stadium on Saturday to begin that run with Stags boss Steve Evans already delighted with the quality his new-look squad is showing.
“The biggest plaudit I can give three or four of these kids is that we are very fortunate to have worked in the Championship at Rotherham United and Leeds United and three of four of these lads could play in those teams,” he said.
“That’s a personal opinion of myself and Paul but shows you the type of player that we’ve signed.
“But it’s easy on the training ground and it’s easier in pre-season matches. But when it comes to Crewe away and the games that follow that, you look around the ‘fancied’ teams in League Two and our first 10 games are particularly tough. If we are in the top group after 10 we’ll get promotion.”
Evans was delighted with the training camp in Malta last week and his squad are now all preparing for Saturday’s opening home pre-season friendly with Championship neighbours Wednesday.
“It was fantastic to be honest and credit to the Radford family for allowing us to have a week like that in Malta,” said Evans.
“The preparation was fantastic and the facilities were top class. It was a good week in preparation for what lies ahead at the start of the season.
“We saw in Malta when we played the inter-squad game – it was a real humdinger of a game and the tackles were flying in.
“We asked for it to be competitive. We said take that idea you may injure someone out of your head as it could happen in any type of match. You have to go and be competitive. It’s the only way players learn and get the benefit from it.
“Half the group are new and half were here before so you are trying to get that integration right. But more importantly I wanted to get across our style of play – how we want to play and what we expect of individuals.
“In all fairness, the guys have grabbed that. It was a good weekend and something to build on.”
He added: “I was pleased to see the rain falling today after two weeks of sunshine with my holiday and then Malta – that’s no good for a Glaswegian. We are back now and we’re ready to work. There is still a fitness programme to follow.
“Obviously we’re looking forward to playing a game at the One Call Stadium and we have a fantastic football club in Sheffield Wednesday coming to town on Saturday.”