MANAGER Glen Driver is pragmatic about the tough-looking start to the season that his Braintree Town team have been handed by the Vanarama National League South fixture planners.

The Iron will head to last year's fifth-placed side Bath City for their campaign's opener on Saturday, August 3, at the start of an opening month that will see them play eight league games, including a home game against Essex rivals Billericay Town on August 6 and trip to Dartford towards the end of the month.

It will be a tough start for Driver in his first season at the Iron helm, but he knew that whoever his team were handed on the first day, it was going to be difficult.

"To be fair, there was never going to be an easy opening," he said.

"Everyone at this level has the quality to make sure that whatever start you have, it's going to be tough.

"But it's one that we will look forward to and we will keep working hard towards it.

"Everyone knows the position that our club is in, but we'll make sure we have 15 to 16 boys all pulling in the right direction on August 3."

Having seen the vast majority of last year's squad - that got relegated from the National League's top flight - make departures, Driver has been busy assembling his new-look squad since taking over as manager in early June.

A lot of his signings will be stepping up to tier two football for the first time, but he knows he has a group of players hungry to prove themselves and feels the fact that they may be an unknown quantity in the division could be used to their advantage.

Driver added: "We may not know too much about Bath, but Bath won't know anything about us.

"There will be plenty of teams out there who won't be looking forward to playing Braintree.

"Most of the teams will be established sides and you can find out a lot about them with a quick look on the internet, but we are a new side and they won't know anything about a lot of our players."

The fixture list has been arranged so there will be a hectic start to the season for sides playing in the Vanarama National League South, with Saturday-Tuesday games throughout most of the opening month.

So Driver knows that his players will have to make sure they are properly prepared for a gruelling opening spell.

He said: "We've got pre-season games between now and then to get the boys really fit and we've already had some really good sessions. "What we have had to do is make sure that we are signing lads who are able to get around the pitch.

"There are full-time teams in the division who can do full sessions just on running, while we have to do half-and-half sessions on fitness and ball work, but we will make sure our lads are in tip-top condition.

"Saturday-Tuesday action is something that (assistant manager) Tony (Kinsella) and I were very much used to when we were at Leiston so we know how to handle it.

"Hopefully we will be able to come through unscathed and will have been able to put a run together to build confidence early on."

One interesting aspect of the fixture list is a double encounter with Chelmsford City over the festive period as the Iron head to Melbourne Park on Boxing Day before hosting their old rivals less than a week later at Cressing Road on New year's Day.

The quick turnaround against the same opposition is something that Driver has not come up against before.

He said: "It's an interesting one - facing the same side twice in five days.

"I've never come across that before.

"When we were at Leiston, we used to have derby games against Needham Market and you'd have one at the start of the season and then another around Christmas, so it will be strange having two so close together, but we'll look forward to it."