JOINT manager Jamie Brough laid down the gauntlet to Eastwood Town’s players this week as they prepared for their final pre-season friendly.
The match at Whitby Town on Saturday is being used as something of a dress rehearsal for the following week’s league opener at home to Droylsden.
But despite Brough and Craig Armstrong having a good idea of what their starting line-up will be on August 13, any players lacking in the necessary qualities at Whitby could still be dropped.
Brough said: “The lads are playing for their shirts, no question about it.
“We’re aiming to play what we feel will be our strongest side at Whitby but the players know if they don’t apply themselves then there are others in the squad who can replace them.
“Results don’t usually matter in pre-season but in the last match against Arnold, and against Whitby, they do matter because we want to go into the first game with momentum and the players also need to show the quality required to win these games.”
Meanwhile, five more players are expected to sign contracts with the Badgers before the weekend.
Experienced defender Kevin Sandwith, 33, has extensive professional experience and was last at Mansfield Town, while young striker Jarrod Westcarr, who scored twice in the 3-1 win over Arnold Town on Sunday, will also complete a deal.
They will be joined by a trio of midfielders - Josh Burge, who has been injured for much of pre-season but is expected to return shortly, teenager Danny Elliott, who turned down a contract with Hinckley United to come to Coronation Park, and Jake Sheridan, who has made over 100 appearances professionally with Notts County and Tamworth.
Brough added: “We may also need another goalkeeper as Ian Deakin has picked up a knock, but we should have a good squad of around 17 or 18 which I think is necessary at this level.”
The Badgers boss also explained the club are still looking for a shirt sponsor, with new kits unable to be delivered until sponsorship has been agreed.
“We have a new commercial manager due to start next week but we’re also keen for businesses to get in touch with us if interested,” he said.
l The Eastwood Town Soccer School will not take place at Coronation Park this weekend due to many of the coaches travelling to Whitby for the pre-season friendly.
The sessions will return next week.