Gus Poyet feels the serious business of pre-season will kick-off against Hercules CF in Alicante on Thursday night.
We face the La Liga Segunda Division side at the Jose Rico Perez Stadium for a 9.30pm kick-off local time, 8.30pm UK.
It is our third friendly following training ground victories over local sides Tavernes and CD Denia during the two weeks of our training camp in Spain.
"Hercules have a great stadium in a good city in Alicante," stated First Team coach Gus, no stranger to La Liga after seven years at Real Zaragoza. "They were in the Premier League a few years ago and they are trying to get back in there, so it will be a tough game for us.
"They will be looking forward to playing us as well and I'm sure it will be a great occasion.
"For us, it's the first serious friendly of pre-season and a real test. The teams we played before are smaller by comparison to Hercules, so this is the first important one for us.
"The lads know that and they will see on Thursday night how difficult it will be against a team like Hercules in their stadium and in the conditions.
"At the same time, it's important we continue getting fit and to start putting into practice in games what we have been working on in training.
"We play the strongest team available to us as long as they are all fit, of course."
Meanwhile, Gus recalled playing at the Jose Rico Perez Stadium during his time at Zaragoza.
"I remember playing at the stadium in a pre-season tournament. It's an impressive stadium, a big stadium for a team in the Second Division. It will be a good atmosphere and ideal for the lads at this stage."
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