A HOST of former Football League players are set to be on show tonight when Harrogate Town visit Pickering Town for a pre-season friendly at the Recreation Ground (kick off 7.45pm).

Former Leeds United defender and now player-coach at Wetherby Road Neil Aspin, in charge of Harrogate in boss John Reed's absence, has more than 600 League games to his credit, and included in his squad among a long list of former full-time professionals will be ex-York City duo Ian Blackstone and Iain Dunn.

Malton-born Chris Hudson, a former Pickering player, is also likely to play.

The Pikes, meanwhile, will include former City great Andy McMillan and ex-Carlisle United and Swansea man Clive Freeman, who will both be making debuts with a view to signing on.

Freeman, himself with more than 100 League games behind him, once came third in a Match of the Day 'Goal of the Year' competition thanks to a stunning strike for Altrincham during a televised FA Cup match.

Pikes boss Jimmy Reid said: "They will be having a look at us and hopefully they will like us and sign on. I know that they're quality players and it will be a big boost to us to have them here."

Northern Counties East League club Pickering have built up a good relationship with Harrogate, and will be the only non-League opposition the UniBond League club will face this pre-season in a list which also includes Sheffield United and Wednesday and York City.

Reid said: "They're bringing down a good squad with a lot of players who have played at a higher standard. They have a lot of respect for us and it's good for us to maintain contacts with them. We appreciate the fact they are coming here to play us.

"We're not a kicking team, we're a footballing team like they are, and I would like to think it will be a good game and that a fair few people will come down to watch us."

Pickering Town: from Mitchell, Reid, Connor, Sturdy, Thornton, Wilgrass, Wilson, Dale, Farthing, O'Reilly, Wash, Wood, Zoll, J Chapman, Dickinson, Freeman, McMillan.

York City defender Marc Thompson is set to make a guest appearance for the Under-19s tonight as the young Minstermen visit Selby Town for the annual Inshops Trophy clash (kick off 7pm).

John Fielding, who made the leap from the youth ranks to the first team squad this summer, is also likely to play, the pair having been left behind as the rest of the fit senior squad went to tour Scotland.

Thompson, who suffered a series of injuries last season, made just 13 first team starts and will be looking to impress as he bids to win back a senior berth.

Youth team assistant coach Brian Neaves said: "It's an annual fixture we always look forward to and it's good preparation towards first game of the season (which is on August 18)."

The Robins, of the Northern Counties East League, are likely to field a mixture of first-teamers, reserves and under-19s.

Updated: 12:31 Friday, July 27, 2001