WARRINGTON Town’s players will find themselves featuring for longer stints in their upcoming friendly matches, manager Paul Carden says.

Yellows travel to Atherton Collieries in their next pre-season game on Saturday, kick off 3pm, before welcoming National League outfit Southport to Cantilever Park on Tuesday, kick off 7.30pm.

The Sandgrounders will be the second National League opposition to have faced Carden’s side in pre-season after Wrexham won 2-1 on Tuesday night, inflicting a first pre-season defeat upon Town.

Ruben Jerome scored an excellent, counter-attacking goal for Yellows late on, but they were already 2-0 down at that point thanks to strikes from Chris Holroyd and Scott Boden.

That followed a 4-0 success at Runcorn Town on Saturday, with new signing Joe Mwasile among the goalscorers.

Jerome, Dylan Vassallo and triallist Steve Irwin were also on target for Yellows.

Carden says he is pleased with how things are coming together but says it is time to take preparations for the new Evo-Stik Premier Division season to the next level.

“We’ll start to build up the players’ game time now towards a full game,” he said.

“Some of the guys played 60 minutes against Wrexham and will be doing so again over the next couple of games.

“We’ve been managing their minutes so as not to flog anybody but we need to step it up now.

“It’s important to make sure everybody is managed right so we can gradually build things up.

“The forwards have all looked like they could complement each other and we’ve looked really threatening out wide so far.

“Jay McCarten and Liam Goulding also look like they’ve played together a million times at the back!

“It’s good to see these things forming so early but I know there’s still a long way to go, with players still to come in.”

Carden’s latest signing is goalkeeper Ben Ashcroft, an 18-year-old who has been on the books at Blackburn Rovers and will provide competition for regular custodian Tony McMillan.

Ashcroft helps coach the junior keepers at Rovers and Carden says that speaks volumes about his ability.

“He was unlucky not to get kept on by Blackburn but they offered him a coaching role with the young keepers. You don’t get many 18-year-olds getting that chance,” he said.

“He’s very young but he’s a very good technical goalkeeper. He’ll be able to learn from Tony McMillan.

“Tony is carrying a bit of a shoulder injury so it was important to get some cover and genuine competition in for him.”

Fixtures for the 2017-18 season were released last week and Yellows will kick off the campaign at home to Rushall Olympic on Saturday, August 12.

Three of Town’s first four league fixtures will be at Cantilever Park, with Ashton United and Matlock Town visiting on August 22 and August 26 respectively.

Yellows’ first away game is at newly-promoted Lancaster City on Tuesday, August 15, while the first month also sees them travel to Coalville Town in the FA Cup preliminary round on Saturday, August 19, and Marine on Monday, August 28.

Carden says he is pleased to avoid too many lengthy trips for midweek games.

“The first thing I looked at was long journeys on a Tuesday night and I think we’ve done okay,” he said.

“It’s nice to start off at home but we can’t attach any significance to who we’re playing. We have to play everyone eventually.”