READY TO ROLL: Phil Barnes.

Boss Barnes feels Holbeach United are ready for his first competitive game in charge

Phil Barnes is happy with the state of his Holbeach United job ahead of his first competitive game in charge of the club.

The Tigers host Kirby Muxloe in the FA Cup on Wednesday (September 2, 7.45pm) as the delayed 2020/21 season finally gets under way.

Barnes, who replaced Danny Hussey over the summer, saw his side beaten by Wisbech Town at the weekend, before bouncing back to defeat Pinchbeck United on Wednesday.

And he has been impressed with what he’s seen over pre-season.

“We’ve improved with every game over pre-season,” enthused Barnes. “It’s been a strange time.

“The lads hadn’t played for months when they game back to training, usually it’s more like six or seven weeks.

“But we’re ready. Dean (Elston) and I are very happy with what we’ve seen and feel we only really need to add another attacking option to the squad.

“We’re obviously disappointed to have lost a few over the summer – but getting Joe Braithwaite, Michael Frew and Joe Smith back is a big plus.”

Barnes, who will look to include younger talent in his squad – provided they are good enough – is confident his side can progress against former UCL rivals Kirby Muxloe.

Their prize for progressing past the extra preliminary round would be a home date with higher-graded Sheffield FC, a prospect that excites the new boss.

“It’s certainly a tie we can look to win if we play to our best,” admitted Barnes. “A few of the lads and staff know a little more about Kirby than me, which bodes well.

“We’re always happy to be at home and the prospect of Sheffield in the next round is an exciting one, but we’ll not look past Wednesday’s game.

“There’s a chance a few of the young lads will get a game, but we’re certainly not looking to blood them for the sake of it.

“We’re still looking at being at the top end of the league this season and the young lads need to be of that standard.”

Holbeach beat Pinchbeck United 2-1 in Lincolnshire Free Press Trophy on Wednesday night and will face Spalding United in the final at Carter’s Park on Saturday (3pm), which will be their final pre-season game.

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