DARREN Byfield will take charge of Redditch United for the first time when his side begin their pre-season campaign with a trip to West Midlands Premier Division outfit AFC Bridgnorth on Saturday, July 9.
With work on the new 3G Valley Stadium pitch continuing until the eve of the new Southern League Premier season, the Reds will be on the road for the entire pre-season campaign.
The players return for training on Saturday, June 25, with the trip to Bridgnorth pencilled in two weeks later.
On Wednesday, July 13 the Reds will head to MFL Premier side Loughborough University and Byfield is also hoping to finalise another game for Saturday, July 16.
Attentions will then turn to the Worcestershire Senior Cup which, for the second successive year, is being played as a pre-season tournament.
The Reds will face Carl Heeley’s National North outfit Worcester City in the semi-final on Tuesday, July 19 ahead of the final or third place play-off which will take place on Saturday, July 23.
The semi-final game will be a home tie for Worcester but will be played at Stourport Swifts’ Walshes Meadow ground as improvement work continues at their new base of Bromsgrove Sporting’s Victoria Ground.
The final week of pre-season sees the new-look Reds head to Midland League Premier outfit Highgate United on Tuesday, July 26, before rounding things off at Bedworth United on Saturday, July 30 with a match which will be played on the Northern Premier Division One South side’s 3G pitch.
Byfield, who is expected to reveal two more arrivals at the Valley Stadium at the start of next week, said: “The first couple of weeks will be all about fitness and getting players up to speed on how I want Redditch United to play.
“It’s not ideal having to play all our pre-season away from the Valley but I’m happy with the mix of games that we have – a good range including a good, physical test against Highgate at the end before a game at Bedworth on their 3G which should be very similar to our own pitch as we are using the same company.”
Meanwhile, defender Calum Flanagan this week became the latest player to leave the Valley to join former boss Liam McDonald at Hednesford Town, whilst full back Jordan Cullinane-Liburd has moved to Stratford Town and attacker Luke Shearer is believed to be on the verge of signing for Nuneaton Town.
The future of striker Jazz Luckie remains unclear with a stay at the Reds or switch to Hednesford both possible.
Byfield, who is weighing up a move for Bromsgrove Sporting midfielder Reece Hewitt, confirmed the versatile Eli Bako has agreed to stay.
“Eli is an energetic player who will bring a lot to the side and I’m delighted he is staying,” said the former Aston Villa and Walsall striker.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of departures but I am pleased by the incoming business I have done so far and there is more activity imminent.
“It’s a hectic time still and I am trying to put together a side which I feel will have the right balance of youth and experience, but I am excited by the side we are putting together.
“I do need to add an experienced head or two more but after that I will be looking at some youthful additions to the squad and then it’s a case of us gelling as quickly as we can because we need to hit the ground running.”