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4 July 2018

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Hatters boss Nathan Jones is looking forward to this Friday's game against Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Central outfit Hitchin Town ahead of his side's pre-season trip to Slovenia on Saturday.

Town head to Top Field to start their pre-season schedule – with the game kicking off at 7pm. They then head to eastern Europe in the early hours of Saturday morning, where they will stay for a week.

With the youth team already away at their Italian training camp, it leaves no questions to answer about whether it will be a first team squad taking on the Canaries – with the gaffer hoping the evening will prove a good opportunity for the players to see where they are at fitness wise.

Jones believes they have returned in excellent shape, and he said: "It's nice to get back at it. We like to go to Hitchin, there's good people over there, we've got a good relationship with their club.

"It'll be good to give them a run out, give them 45 minutes each. But pre-season is a good time, especially early on when you're finding your form and feet. It's a really good gauge and that's what Friday night will be.

"The youth team are away and I doubt me, Harty, Mick or Joaquin will want to play! We'll have a full squad going there. We've almost got a full squad in place anyway which is really, really positive for pre-season anyway. Everyone will get a run out at some stage."

Whilst he is pleased with his side's level of fitness, he believes there's still a fair way to go before they are ready for Sky Bet League One action.

"We don't want them peaking yet, we're going through longer distances at the moment," he continued. "We will taper that – bring it down and sharpen them up and then be ready. We've got a good week to look forward to next week, but it's important we get to optimum performance and optimum physicality safely. That's the main thing."

The Welshman hopes the pre-season training camp in Kranjska Gora will not only provide an excellent facility to up the intensity in the build up to the start of the campaign, but also for the players to experience a different culture.

He said: "Slovenia is a wonderful country and we are staying near the capital. The facilities we have this year are slightly better than last year. We try and improve it a little bit year-on-year.

"They'll get a bit of a cultural experience as well. I don't want to go and lock them up in a mountain like Rocky or Rocky 4! I like them to have a little bit of a cultural experience.

"I would have liked that – to go to a wonderful city and have a little bit of downtime and if they want to, to explore that. I think that's an important part of these things."

Click play on the video above to watch Nathan's full interview from The Brache earlier today on pre-season, Hitchin, Slovenia, the World Cup and working with Gareth Southgate...

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