South Shields refreshed and hungry for return of football ahead of Hebburn Town friendly tonight
Lee Picton says South Shields are feeling "massively refreshed and hungry" as they prepare to return to action on Tuesday night.
1st Cloud Arena will host its first match in 158 days as the Mariners take on neighbours Hebburn Town in their opening pre-season friendly.
A club spokesman said: “The club greatly regrets that no supporters will be permitted into the ground due to Government guidelines, but it is hoped that the match will be shown live on Facebook as part of a live streaming trial to allow fans to remain a key part of the action.
"Please head to the club's Facebook page and, all being well, we will provide a full show from around 6.30pm including a preview of the match, live footage of the game itself and post-game reaction.” Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena is at 7.30pm.
Shields are looking ahead to the 2020-21 campaign with positivity, having had time to process the bitterly disappointing conclusion to the 2019-20 season, which was rendered null and void with the Mariners sitting 12 points clear at the top of the table.
Joint managers Picton and Graham Fenton have been impressed with what they have seen since the players returned to training earlier this month and are confident that the long period without a game will work in their favour.
Picton said: "Graham and I are absolutely delighted with where we're at as a group right now.
"It's early days but we honestly feel that we're ahead of where we've been at this point in previous pre-seasons.
"Generally speaking, the players really looked after themselves over the difficult lockdown period and that, coupled with the really strong additions we feel we've made to the group over the summer, has resulted in a level of quality in training that has been absolutely fantastic.
"The period after the season was curtailed brought a number of opportunities.
"Sometimes as a manager you feel like you're flying from one season straight into the next, so it's often difficult to take a step back and really reflect and analyse everything that has happened.
"This year I think both myself and Graham took the opportunity to reflect on an even deeper level than we normally would.
"We feel massively refreshed and hungry to implement the changes to how we do things across the board and really look forward to seeing the results of those."
Shields have made four additions to their squad so far this summer, with Myles Boney and Jordan Hunter converting their loan deals into permanent moves, Alex Kempster signing from York City and Will McCamley returning to the club on loan from Huddersfield Town.
Picton added: "In terms of personnel, we feel that we're genuinely stronger across the board than this time last year.
"The competition for places throughout the squad is absolutely fantastic.
"We're in no doubt that will drive greater standards and levels of performance across the board."