Boss Andy Coyles hopes Penrith AFC’s early start to pre-season will ensure his players are fit and firing, come the start of their new Northern League Division One campaign.

The Bonny Blues return to action tomorrow at Wearside League outfit Richmond Town’s ground, kick-off at 2pm, in the first of eight warm-up matches currently scheduled.

And Coyles wants Penrith to use their friendlies, including the regular fixture against Carlisle United on July 13, to ensure his troops are ready for their league opener at home to Bishop Auckland on August 3.

He said: "Historically, Penrith have struggled at the beginning of every season and it’s taken them a good three or four [league] games to get up to speed with the rest of them.

"So, that was part of our thinking with starting a couple of weeks before everyone else so that, by the time the season starts, fitness won’t be an issue. That’s the mind-set we want to try and instil in the lads.

"The first game of pre-season is tomorrow against Richmond Town.

"They are in the Wearside League and came fourth last season, and they are [eventually] looking for promotion into the Northern League, so it’s going to be a decent starting point for the boys with where we are up to and how much needs to be done over the next five or six weeks."

Coyles, however, does concede not all of his players have bought into their June start.

“I’ll be open and honest, not everyone has bought into the start time of pre-season," he said.

"Nobody likes pre-season, nobody likes doing what’s required in order to get fitter and stronger, but it needs to be done.

"If lads aren’t prepared to do that, then they are going to struggle to secure a spot and they are going to have to play catch up to everyone else.

"But so far, so good. The attitude and application of the boys who have been in has been absolutely brilliant. I can’t question anything that they have done.

"Their attitude has been absolutely spot-on."

When asked what he knows about Penrith’s first friendly opponents, Coyles said: “I know Richmond quite well on the basis that I live over this way.

“Richmond Town is a team I follow quite closely. With them being in the Wearside League, they are not a million miles off us in terms of standard.

"They are two leagues below us but they finished fourth last season, and they are eager to secure promotion this season. They do mean business, they do have the right ambitions and right goals in place.

"So I think, with the right support on and off the field, that they will do alright this year."

Coyles, who has added Dave “Dabba” Hewson to his coaching team as first-team coach, added he has kept the core of last term’s squad together at Frenchfield Park, but is keen to bolster his options in wide midfield. That is after winger Matty Clarke left earlier this month to link up with former Penrith striker Shaun Gardner at National League North outfit Bradford (Park Avenue).

Carlisle City, meanwhile, are also preparing for life in the Northern League in the 2019/20 season after their appeal against their lateral movement from the Hallmark Security League was rejected by The Football Association this week.

Chairman Brian Hall attended the hearing at Wembley on Monday in front of a three-man commission.

Hall said: "My gut feeling was we were going to win it, but my gut feeling was wrong.

"Part of their argument was the distance to opposition clubs is not much different, geographically, to what it was in the Hallmark Security League. But part of our argument was the roads we have to use are not roads you would want to use every week."

But he added: "There are positives.

"We have already been to the [Northern League] AGM. We have met lots of people."

So, City will be in Northern League, Division Two next term, starting at home to Chester-le-Street on August 3.