MANAGER Mark McLean is delighted with the momentum that his Halstead Town players have brought into their pre-season preparations ahead of the Thurlow Nunn league division one south season.

Halstead will kick-off their 2019/20 campaign with a home game against Wormley Rovers - ironically the team who they faced at home on the final day of last season - on August 3.

While the Humbugs were a bit frustrated with their last few games of last season, including a 4-1 defeat by Wormley that they will be looking avenge on the opening day, it was an extremely successful campaign for them that saw them competing strongly for the title throughout and eventually finish third.

And McLean is pleased that his players have brought that buoyancy back with them after the short summer break.

He is also very happy that he has been able to keep last year's squad together despite plenty of interest in a number of players from rival clubs.

"It's been a really good pre-season so far," said the Humbugs boss.

"We've had some good hard tests and have come through them very well.

"The numbers are looking very good and I'm very pleased.

"We've definitely kept the momentum we had last year.

"I have purposely kept things with a low profile over the summer because we did very well and and we knew that there'd be a lot of interest in some of the players. "That's always a danger when you have a good season like we had, but we have a good environment for the players and while there were some approaches, no-one has left.

"Matt Coppin, who came in at the end of last season is the only one as he's decided to go back to Wivenhoe, but other than that we have kept hold of everyone.

"There was a lot of interest, but we are delighted to have kept them.

"That was their decisions and it shows that they are in a good place."

Halstead continue their pre-season action with a trip to West Wratting on Saturday, before an eye-catching home game against the Parachute Regiment's team at the Milbank Stadium on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm) for a game when entry to the ground will be free for spectators.

McLean is also pleased when comparing his squad's situation now to how they looked at the same point in pre-season 12 months ago and he is confident they will be ready to face Wormley Rovers on August 3.

"I think we're looking even more settled than 12 months ago and that is massive," he added. "You can see how important that is every aspect of life as the more you do something, the better you get at it and that's the same with football.

"Seeing the same group come back is brilliant; they have just picked up the baton with the same mideset and message they had before and they understand it more. "They've been away and have benefited from that and now we're into pre-season, they just look so solid and comfortable.

"That will mean we're ready for the start and when it really matters.

"We need to get a good foothold at the start of the season.

"I only care about us as I know we can anyone if we play to our levels."