MIDFIELDER Joe Pritchard is like a child on Christmas Eve, as he prepares for a first competitive game since March.

John Coleman's side face a trip to the Pirelli Stadium to take on Burton Albion in the first round of the Carabao Cup - their first outing since the coronavirus pandemic brought the League One season to a premature end six months ago.

The 23-year-old former Spurs youngster jokes that pre-season was about "seeing if I still had any ability from what I had last year", and he is eager for the real thing come tonight.

Pritchard, who joined the Reds last May after a spell with Bolton Wanderers, admitted: "I'm just so excited, it's been such a long time since we've been able to play on the pitch, so I just can't wait to get going again.

"It's just good to be back playing, I think it was like five months without any games at all.

"So even the games in pre-season, I was really looking forward to getting back out onto the pitch and seeing if I still had any ability from what I had last year."

Watford-born, Pritchard used lockdown to spend some time back with his family in Hertfordshire, having moved north after leaving Tottenham in 2018, while keeping himself ticking over in terms of his fitness: "Obviously I'm quite far away from home up here, so I managed to get back home and I've been up here for about two years now.

"It was good to get back home, see the family and spend a lot of time with them as well, a lot more quality time than what I would have had before.

"But even when you are off, you've got to do certain things to make sure you're still preparing for the next week.

"A three-hour drive every weekend isn't the best thing to do, so a lot of the time I just stayed up here and made sure I was recovering properly for games and training."