Whitby Town all set for big kick-off

WHITBY Town manager Harry Dunn insists his side will be prepared for Saturday's first outing of the new Evo-Stik season against newly-promoted Mickleover Sports after only four pre-season friendlies.

Read more in our fantastic eight-page supplement in the Whitby Gazette, Tuesday 17 August

The Derby club, like Town in 1998, have enjoyed back-to-back promotions, since graduating from the Northern Counties East Premier and winning the Unibond First Division South last season.

The Blues tried a 4-3-3 in the first half against a strong Middlesbrough XI last Wednesday, but Dunn will be getting plenty of background on Town's newest opponents before deciding what system he'll adopt this weekend.

"I know someone down there who will keep an eye on them and the local press for any of their new signings," he said.

But, basically, I'm not a big lover of having set formations, so it depends on what I hear about Mickleover, then I'll sit down and see what we're going to do."

Dunn was pleased with his side, despite the scoreline, at Middlesbrough, who included Marvin Emnes, stating: "We had a great workout on Wednesday night.

"It was a good game and the pitch was immaculate."

The Blues' most-successful ever manager was also confident that the lowest number of pre-season friendlies played for decades was not going to leave his charges under-prepared.

"A lot of teams play loads of friendlies and have squads of 20 players getting 45 minutes each if they're lucky.

"Last week on the Astroturf, we had 21 playing non-stop for about an hour of football.

"The ball was very rarely off the pitch, it was hard work.

"Although we haven't played many competitive games we've been playing a lot of football in training."

This past weekend, Dunn took his players onto the West Cliff beach and is upbeat about preparations.

Young striker Jamie Hopcutt has signed on a month's loan from York City and like the local sands for much of the year, is described by Dunn as "nippy".

Like Hopcutt, Robbie Hawkes is a pacey forward who can play on either side of the field and is expected to join from Scarborough Town this week.

Hawkes' former team-mate Nathan Cook, youngest son of ex-Blues' assistant and veteran defender Mitch Cook, trialled with Whitby but chose nearby Bridlington instead.

Meanwhile, the Seasiders' supremo has picked up ex-Blyth goalkeeper Mark Bell as third-choice gloveman, though the expert shot-stopper, also registered at West Auckland, is unlikely to figure on Saturday.

Dunn is still weighing up whether to have a keeper on the bench with Dave Campbell missing out due to his charity bike ride – Town's only absentee.

"This time last year, we had Tommy Raw injured, Anth Ormerod, Danny Brunskill.

"As long as no-one gets injured in training midweek, we should have a full squad to pick from on Saturday," the Blues boss added.

However, like last season, when frontmen Ryan Blott and Michael Tymon were signed hours before kick-off on the opening day, Dunn refuses to rule out any last minute additions:

"If anyone is available and we can have them, you can't just say no – we won't do it, it's part of the job."