Coventry City kick off their preparation for the 2022/23 season this weekend at local National League North outfit Leamington in front of what is expected to be a sell out crowd at Your Co-op Community Stadium.
Mark Robins guided his Sky Blues to a twelfth placed finish in the Championship last season, unable to break into the play-off positions as it looked like they may have done back at the start of the campaign.
On the other hand, Saturday's hosts had a season hit by injury last time out and finished a respectable fifteenth in the National League North whilst also winning the Birmingham Senior Challenge Cup at Villa Park. Heading into 2022/23, the Brakes will hold their position of highest ranked side in Warwickshire for another campaign.
Leamington have had some changes in their squad over the summer. Callum Gittings called time on his Brakes career on a high by scoring a screamer against his former side Kidderminster Harriers and playing on his boyhood team's pitch at Villa Park; he is to join the team Leamington beat in that final - Stourbridge. Joe Parker has also left Your Co-op Community Stadium, with the winger's job taking him further south.
There are a few new faces in the camp as well. Ben Usher-Shipway was the first to join after he left Solihull Moors at the end of 2021/22. Alex Prosser spent 8 games on loan from Brackley Town at Harbury Lane last season and Paul Holleran acted quickly to bring Prosser permanently. The third new signing is centre back Theo Streete who signed from AFC Telford United. The Brakes will also have former Kidderminster Harriers youth man and Worcester City's top scorer last campaign Bailey Fuller on trial for pre-season.
There hasn't been that much movement in the away team camp - but more rustlings of transfer rumours created by supporters. One definite is the arrival of Jamaican international Kasey Palmer who joined from Bristol City. Sky Blues fans will hope to see the trio of Viktor Gyökeres, Callum O'Hare and Gustavo Hamer on Saturday, all of whom have been rumoured to be getting interest from the Premier League and fellow Championship clubs.
It is unknown as to whether Mark Robins will do what he did last time at Leamington and field two separate sides, however those sides in 2019 were still made up of first team players.
Leamington: Weaver, Meredith, Morley, Prosser, Streete, Lane, Fuller, Walker, Turner, Edwards, Kelly-Evans
Initial Coventry: Moore, Kane, McFadzean, Hyam, Dabo, Bidwell, Hamer, Allen, O'Hare, Palmer, Waghorn
Ones to watch
Well known by the Sky Blue Army, Devon Kelly-Evans will be itching to get on the scoresheet on Saturday. DKE progressed through the Coventry academy alongside his twin brother Dion, who last played for Notts County.
Kelly-Evans made 18 appearances for the Sky Blues before getting released, scoring once away at Exeter City. After three seasons of dominating awards evening at Nuneaton Borough, Kelly-Evans made the step up to Borough's Warwickshire rivals Leamington and became an important member of Paul Holleran's side in 2021/22, capping off his season by scoring the opener at Villa Park in the Birmingham Senior Cup final.
Born in Brazil and developed in the Feyenoord youth system, Hamer moved to England after spells at Dordrecht and PEC Zwolle. The centre midfield maestro has been a mainstay in Mark Robins' side and has recently attracted interest from Premier League clubs, with newly promoted Fulham reportedly interested in the playmaker.
The planned friendly last year had to be downgraded to a Coventry u18 side after a Covid-19 outbreak in the Sky Blues camp so the last time the first teams met was in 2019 - starting off Coventry's eventual title winning season.
A weakened Leamington side couldn't cope with the then League One outfit, as the visitors ran out 4-0 winners with the live Sky Sports cameras looking on.
How to watch
As of the evening of Monday 27 June, only 100 tickets were remaining for the pre-season game, which will be the second highest attended game ever at Your Co-op Community Stadium. Leamington are putting on free buses from Leamington Spa Train Station in order to allow supporters to get to the game.
There will be no livestream of the fixture, however supporters of both sides who cannot make the game can still listen on BrakesLiveFM, Leamington's free to air commentary radio. Coverage usually starts approximately ten minutes ahead of kick off with Matt Delaney and Shaun Cashmore bringing every kick.
Extended highlights and reaction will be available to watch on Leamington FCTV.
Kick off at Your Co-op Community Stadium is 13:00 BST.