Southend United have lined up pre-season fixtures with teams from Brentford and Norwich City as they prepare for the 2021/22 Vanarama National League season.
The Bees will be sending a side to Roots Hall Stadium on Wednesday, August 4, while the Canaries under 23 side head to south-east Essex a week later on Tuesday 10.
Blues boss, Phil Brown explained: “To get the standard of Norwich and Brentford, one it emphasises the relationship with the Premier League clubs around us is positive and it gives us something we might be able to utilise during the season in terms of loans. More importantly, the preparation for the campaign next year has to be as difficult as we can possibly make it.
“It certainly will be physically, it will be a challenge on the fitness front. Now we have to make it a challenge on the football front and that is what we have done with regards to West Ham, Brentford and Norwich.
“The U23’s of these teams have showed in the England team at the moment the quality that they have because a lot of them [in the England team] have come through U23s teams and the technical side is at the forefront of their game.
“Watching their first teams last season, you have to be technically capable to get into them so you’ve got to play a certain way, which is what we’re expecting.”