EX-PRESTON defender Paul Sparrow is licking his lips ahead of Tuesday night's prestige friendly with his old club and declares: "It's a great test."

City's longest serving player starred for North End after leaving Crystal Palace - and even after his release from Deepdale stayed in the area.

Now in his sixth season at Giant Axe, Sparrow reckons the new campaign may well be one to remember and is looking forward to lining up with new boy Iain Swan.

Sparrow and Swan are expected to form the heart of City's defence and if all goes to plan they will stick together like birds of a feather through the Nationwide North season.

"It will be good playing alongside Swanny," says the Cockney.

"And it will be a real test for us on Tuesday night against North End.

"It doesn't matter what team they send, they will be hard to beat and that's the sort of game we need in pre-season.

"We need to be prepared for the season and a game against the likes of Preston can only help us."

That game follows Saturday's clash at Kirkham and Wesham as City get into gear for the big kick-off on August 13.

Meanwhile, boss Phil Wilson continues to run the rule over his squad in pre-season.

The manager has several men on trial, including young Polish winger Ariel Mrowinski, Steve Skinner, Steve Howson, Chris Ward and Chris Thompson, while former Burnley youngster Alex Taylor is also training with the club.

And another man set to train is Stone Dominoes goal machine Dave Shaw as soon as he recovers from an ankle strain.

"I have a few lads in at the moment, Wilson says. "I am still having a good look at them and will give them a run in pre-season matches before making any decisions.

"We have a few good games coming up and I hope we get a good crowd for the Preston game and also for the Blackpool match on Saturday week."