MARTIN Rowe has been delighted with the fitness levels his Gresley side have shown this summer, writes David Broome.
The Moatmen play their second friendly of pre-season today when they travel to Shepshed Dynamo (3pm), and after watching his side in training and in their first test against Solihull Moors, Rowe is a happy man.
"The biggest difference I've noticed is that players are a lot fitter," he said.
"Last season players weren't at the levels they should have been, but we've worked on that and are reaping the rewards.
"All of a sudden players have got a bit of pace, so we look stronger and fitter."
Rowe has brought in a few new faces this summer, and with his existing squad all looking sharp, has warned there will be strong competition for places.
"The players can see the squad we've got and that there are 20 players, and all 20 want to play," he said.
"It doesn't matter if you are an Eric Graves, or a Jamie Barrett or a Kieran O'Connell, you've got to put the work in to prove you deserve a place."
Trialists Russ Peel and Ashley Robinson, both brought in from Ilkeston, will get another chance to impress today, while Rowe could also run the rule over a new centre-half.
New signings Tom Turner and Rob Ritchie-Smith should get more game time after only coming on in the second half.
On midfielder Ritchie-Smith, Rowe said: "When you make a lot of changes it's always hard to stamp your authority on a game.
"In training he looks good, he's confident on the ball and we'll give him a chance against Shepshed."
Gresley's fixtures for the forthcoming season have been announced.
They make the trip to the Scholars Ground to face Chasetown in their first game on Saturday, August 16.
The Moatmen have returned to playing home midweek games on Tuesdays, and the first game at the Moat Ground will be on Tuesday, August 19, when Sutton Coldfield Town visit.