Notts County travel to Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy round of 32 on Tuesday night for Neal Ardley’s first game in charge.
After taking over as manager last week, the former AFC Wimbledon boss had a free weekend to get to know his players and will be looking forward to seeing them in action.
His first match comes by way of a trip to the north-east to face Sky Bet League One’s second-placed team in arguably the hardest draw Notts could have got at this stage.
Sunderland have picked up 40 points from their opening 19 games of the season and look to be on course for an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship.
The Magpies’ boss has already faced the Black Cats this season when his Wimbledon side were beaten 2-1 at Kingsmeadow.
If Tuesday night’s game is level after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will take place to see which side progresses to the last 16.
“I’m excited. The honeymoon period is over now and the pressure is on us to put smiles on faces.
“We had a really good session on Saturday when we presented our tactics to the boys and they all understood and implemented them well – on Tuesday night we’ll learn more about the team.
“Sunderland are a good side. I’ve played them already this season with Wimbledon so I know what challenge awaits us and we’re under no illusions that it will be tough.
“They’ve only lost once all season so they’re in the mode that we want to get into and we’ve got to try and disrupt their habit.”
Enzio Boldewijn will be absent for around three months after discovering the extent of his knee injury, while Lewis Alessandra is also likely to be missing for a number of weeks.
Ardley has said he won’t be bringing young players into the line-up, so expect a strong Notts squad for his first game in charge.
Sunderland boss Jack Ross revealed that young players and those returning from injury will get a chance to show what they can do on Tuesday night.
George Honeyman will miss the game but Duncan Watmore will be included and Bali Mumba has been told he is starting.
We’ve met before
The last meeting between the two sides came in the same competition with Notts beaten 2-1 at the Stadium of Light in November 2016.
The Magpies had a more fruitful visit five years earlier, though, as goals from Craig Westcarr and Lee Hughes earned a famous 2-1 win in the Emirates FA Cup, with Darren Bent netting a late penalty for the hosts.
The evening’s officials
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistants: David Avent and Lee Freeman
Fourth official: Ross Joyce