Preparations for the new Vanarama National League North campaign step up a notch for Liam Watson’s squad this week as a series of pre-season games begin.

Southport will be hoping to improve on last season and use their two cup successes as the platform to mount a strong league charge this time around.

Pre-season will see the Port come up against a mix of opposition, facing teams from both higher and lower leagues in the football pyramid, as well as EFL development sides, as Watson’s players look to ready themselves for the forthcoming campaign.
Amos Wynn takes a look at the six games coming up.

Wigan Athletic U23s v Southport
The action kick offs at the Christopher Park training ground in Standish on the 9 July, when Southport will face the Latics U23 squad.
Under the leadership of former Port manager, Paul Cook, the Wigan first team comfortably survived relegation from the SkyBet Championship last season, despite some shaky moments throughout.
A youthful side is expected to be on display display for Latics, but the coaching staff will be eager to look at some of the younger members of the team ahead of next season.
In previous seasons the likes of Callum Lang, who enjoyed a successful spell at Oldham Athletic last term, have featured for the Wigan U23s before gaining more experience elsewhere.
As a first run-out of the summer for the Port, Watson is expected to share the game-time for all the players within his squad.

Widnes v Southport
The next trip sees Southport make to face Widnes on Friday 12 July at the Select Security Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Whites currently play in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, and finished 12th in the table in their first year in the competition.
A player of much importance throughout that campaign was striker, Ben Hodkinson, who was on target 13 times in his debut season with the team.
Led by joint player-managers, Steve Akrigg, the former Port defender, and Kevin Towey, the club enjoyed promotion success in 2018, as they finished second in the North West Counties Premier Division.
Throughout this summer Widnes have made a number of new signings to help improve the squad. In the build up to the new season, the Whites will also face Rylands, Warrington Town and Ashton Town, amongst others.

Fleetwood Town (Development Squad) v Southport
In a repeat of last season’s friendly, the Port will play Fleetwood Town’s Development Squad on Monday 15 July.
The young Cod Army side are due to play four Non-League teams this summer having come out on top against the Port in last season’s fixture, winning 3-1.
Among the highly-rated youngsters within the Fleetwood squad are Barry Baggley, James Hill and England U19 international goalkeeper Billy Crellin
The game takes place at Poolfoot Farm, kick-off 1pm.

Bala Town v Southport
Bala Town will be the fourth side that the Port will come up against as part of their preparations for the new season.
The Lakesiders compete in the Welsh Premier League, finishing sixth last year and missing out on a Europa League place after losing to Cardiff Metropolitan University FC on penalties in a play-off final.
Southport will head to Maes Tegid on Wednesday 17 July for a 7.45pm kick-off.
A player who may be familiar to the travelling supporters is Bala midfielder Evan Horwood, who scored for Chester against the Port in a 1-0 victory for the Blues in February 2017.
The Welsh outfit will hope to improve on last season, missing out on the Europa League for the first time in four seasons.

Southport v Blackpool
The first friendly at Haig Avenue sees the visit of Blackpool on Tuesday 23 July.
Prior to facing Watson’s side, the Seasiders also come up against other Vanarama National League North opponents Spennymoor Town and Altrincham.
Simon Grayson, their returning manager, will be hoping to push his side for a SkyBet League One promotion push and improve last season’s tenth-placed place finish.
Whilst in the not so distant past, the Pool were in the Premier League, they’ve spent the last few years in the bottom two divisions of the EFL. Now under new ownership, Blackpool fans will be more positive for the future.
Two years ago, the Seasiders visited Southport for another pre-season encounter, in which they came away from Haig Avenue with a 3-1 victory.
Grayson will be hoping his side can put in a similar performance as they prepare for their opening League One match against Bristol Rovers at Bloomfield Road.
Meanwhile Dion Charles will be looking to give Southport a triumphant return home as he takes on the side whom he started his career with.

Southport v Blackburn Rovers XI
Blackburn Rovers will be Southport’s final pre-season opponents ahead of the new Vanarama National League North campaign.
Rovers secured a comfortable 15th placed finish in the SkyBet Championship last season, under the leadership of manager Tony Mowbray.
The Lancashire outfit are gearing up for their opening league game against Charlton Athletic at Ewood Park.
A youthful Blackburn squad is expected to line up against the Port in a game which sees Andy Parry and Dean Winnard face their former club, both having started out in the Rovers’ Academy.
The two sides previously met in pre-season in 2013, Blackburn coming away 2-0 winners.
Liam Watson will want his side to record a better score in this year’s meeting and to finish pre-season on a high.
With the game taking place on the 28 July and kicking off at 1pm, it will be the last test before the new campaign starts.


All pre-season fixtures are open to the public, including those scheduled for weekday afternoons.


Updates from the friendly games will be available on the club’s social media channels. Half-time and full-time flashes will be provided from the early fixtures, followed a match report and photos on the club’s official website.