CHAIRMAN Lee Harding says Braintree Town’s showpiece pre-season games against Football League opponents are the perfect opportunities for their new players to showcase their skills.

Manager Brad Quinton has spent his time since becoming Iron boss assembling a new squad of players and they have been having their first run-outs this week with games at Thurlow Nunn League sides Long Melford and Newmarket Town.

They won 6-0 at Long Melford with braces from Karl Oliyide and Darnel Wynter and one apiece from Jonathan Muleba and Christian Frimpong and the goals kept coming at Newmarket as the Iron won 5-0 with a Scott Shulton penalty added to by strikes from Wynter, George Craddock, Matt Baxter and Michael Campbell.

However, things are set to step up a gear on Saturday when they face League One side Southend United at the Ironmongery Direct Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

That will be followed - after a mid-week trip to Bury Town on Tuesday - with another home game against near neighbours Colchester United on July 22 and Harding believes there are chances to shine not only for Quinton, but opposition bosses as well.

“They are games where there will be opportunities to impress,” he said.

“Young lads can come to Braintree and it’s all well and good impressing against Long Melford and Newmarket, but doing well against Southend and Colchester - that’s more impressive.

“And as well as impressing us at Braintree, they can impress the opposition as well.

“When you play local sides, they want to have a look at what you’ve got as well.

“We had Michael Cheek here last year and I know Colchester and Southend were impressed by him when they saw him.

“So there are opportunities for these young lads with us, but also if they are looking to go on.”

Harding said he had been pleased with the building work done by Quinton so far and was looking forward to seeing how players stepped up to the bigger tests.

He added: “We have a hard core of players who will all do well in the (National League) South division and the thing about this time of year is that you find players coming out of thin air who you didn’t know about.

“They become available and there was a lad from Swindon who was like that at Long Melford.

“He really impressed and looks like one for the future.

“So we now have a collective group of about 25 players with some who are signed on and others who have an opportunity to earn a deal.

“Competition for places is healthy and some will move on to higher levels, some will end up lower and if they want to be at Braintree then they have games coming up to show that as we continue against Southend and Colchester.”