Darren Edmondson says his Penrith side will give Carlisle United the most competitive game they can in tonight’s pre-season opener.

The Blues start their programme of friendlies with a trip to the Leo Group Stadium to take on a home side managed by former Brunton Park favourite Edmondson.

It is a return to what has, in recent years, been a traditional summer curtain-raiser but which could not take place last year amid renovations at Penrith’s ground including the installation of an artificial pitch.

Edmondson is delighted the fixture is back on the calendar and hopes for a positive night on and off the pitch.

“All clubs need good pre-season games for revenue and so forth, and this is one of ours, if not our best one,” he said.

“The relationship between the two clubs is long-standing, and the fact Simmo [Paul Simpson] and Carlisle have decided to come down here first and continue that link is great for us.

“It will be great for all the fans to see new Carlisle players and hopefully one or two new faces for Penrith too. We're delighted to get the game, and we'll hopefully give a good account of ourselves.”

It is also a first game of pre-season for Penrith as they prepare for the Northern League Division One campaign.

It will see Edmondson’s part-time players take on a United squad that is likely to involve new signings Terell Thomas, Aaron Hayden, Jude Smith, Cameron Harper, Ethan Robson and Charlie Wyke.

United will give players 45 minutes each.

As for Penrith, Edmondson said: “We're dependent on numbers as to what we're going to do, how we're going to manage it.

Richard Prokas, the former United favourite, is assistant manager at PenrithRichard Prokas, the former United favourite, is assistant manager at Penrith (Image: Barbara Abbott)

“However we go about it, we will try and give Carlisle the best possible test. We want to make sure that it's competitive and that Carlisle get something from it – not just minutes, but a challenging game and that they continue then to come back again.

“We might have a couple of key players missing, but that's the nature of the part-time game, and it's holiday season. That comes with the territory, but we'll put out the best side we can and try and have a game plan that's going to give Carlisle a good game.”

Penrith, who finished 15th in their division last season, have former United prospect Connor Hammell on their books, while the Bonny Blues have bolstered their squad with the return of experienced forward Martyn Coleman.

“[Recruitment] is tough in our area – clubs such as ourselves, Carlisle City and now Gretna are fishing in the same pond,” said manager Edmondson, whose assistant is fellow 1990s United favourite Richard Prokas.

“Fingers crossed we've done okay to keep all ours and we've added a couple of more experienced lads that have been here before, such as Martyn Coleman.

“When we looked at last season, we felt we were very good on the football side but, away from home and sometimes at home too, we were coming up against teams that had loads of players at 6ft 3ins or more.

“Set-pieces were becoming an issue. So, we looked at what we can recruit to try and help that strength side of our team.

“Martyn has had a knee operation and then he's done some private rehabilitation, so he's had a really good summer and he'll probably play against Carlisle.”

Former United prospect Connor Hammell is now with PenrithFormer United prospect Connor Hammell is now with Penrith (Image: Workington Reds)

Edmondson is delighted to have Hammell on board, meanwhile, after he impressed last season following a dual registration move from Workington Reds. He is now fully on Penrith’s books, likewise Lewis Moore and Matty Bell.

“They enjoyed the game time and coming to play for us,” Edmondson said. “I think there has been contact [from other clubs] but they’ve all decided to stay and sign permanently with us this year. That’s a plus.

“They’re good footballers. Connor scored some brilliant goals for us, and young Lewis has got loads of time on his hands. He's an incredible young footballer for his age, actually. If he was in a different county in the country, he'd be playing at a higher level, I'm certain of it. I think he's that good.”

Tonight’s game can be a platform of sorts for players on both sides. “From our point of view, you want to play against better players and better teams, give yourself a good account of it and showcase yourself,” added Edmondson.

Kick-off tonight is 7pm and entry is £5 for adults, £3 for under-18s and over-65s, and free for under-7s.