Notts County youth team start their league campaign this Saturday morning as they make the short trip to Burton Albion.
The squad have had a mixed bag of pre-season results, but head of academy coaching Andy McMillan knows that the real tests will begin this weekend.
He said: ”You can’t judge anything on pre-season games, I’ve seen teams go completely unbeaten throughout their fixtures and then they come to a competitive match and they don’t perform.
“The only thing you can judge is the fitness and the lads are fit.
"Fitness is there for all to see and we tested the lads again with another Cooper-test this week to monitor their progress from the start of summer - it’s a good sign.
“Burton will be a very tough test to start with, they are a direct team and it will be down to us to stand up to the fight, get the ball down and play and create things.”
McMillan’s side completed pre-season with a 3-0 loss to Peterborough United and an 8-0 thumping of Grantham Town.
He now hopes the young Magpies can take the positives from both games into today's match.
He added: “We’ve worked at Highfields this week on possession and look at our match set pieces, corners, free-kicks, throw-ins and we are hopeful that extra work will come off in the game environment.
“We are all prepared and there will be no doubt in the players minds of what they are asked to do and their responsibilities.
“I’m looking forward to it starting now and our targets are high.
"We want to win the league and I honestly think we can.
"This is my fourth team in the Youth Alliance and this is the best group of players I’ve worked with.
“I’m not sure the belief is quite there yet, but if that changes we will have a good chance of beating the likes of Hull, Doncaster and Chesterfield who I’m sure will be up there challenging again.”
Keep up to date with the youth results, highlights, interviews and photographs on the official site and Magpie Player this season.
View the Youth Team’s fixtures by clicking here.