YORK City boss Steve Watson is prioritising suitable tests for his team over money-spinning friendlies as he finalises the club’s pre-season programme.

The Minstermen had agreed a series of high-profile contests to mark the opening of the new Community Stadium, before the project was delayed and it was confirmed that the 2019/20 term would kick off at Bootham Crescent instead.

That has led to Watson being tasked with organising a fresh warm-up programme of games, which he reckons should provide better preparation for the next National League North campaign.

“We’ve got seven games pencilled in, which is quite a lot, considering that they’ll all be played in July, but they will start early because I’m a believer in playing football to get people fit,” Watson explained. “I think that’s better than running around fields or through forests.

“We’ll have a good mix of games and, while matches against big clubs bring in good money, from a football point of view, if you’re playing a lot of under-23 players, it’s not really the right preparation that you need and doesn’t give you an indication of where you’re at. The games we’re arranging will all be beneficial and appropriate in terms of the teams we will be facing next season.”

Watson added that he expects all players to return from their close-season holiday in good condition, without him being over-bearing in terms of what he expects from them during their time away from the club.

“I think players are totally different in the modern era,” he pointed out. “If somebody had handed me a pre-season fitness programme in the 1990s, I’d have probably ripped it up, as most players would have done back then.

“Nowadays, players still need to enjoy themselves during their summer break, but they come back as fit as they need to be, and they will be checked a couple of days before pre-season starts at the end of June to make sure that’s the case.”