Barkingside manager Steven Le Sage is expecting a ‘tough start’ as they face Holland in their 2021-22 season opener.

Side return to Thurlow Nunn First Division South action after months of uncertainty during the ongoing pandemic with a trip away to Dulwich Road on Saturday.

“Holland away will be a really tough start for us, but we have to go there at some point,” said Le Sage.

“I think we can look at how well they performed in the Len Cordell Memorial Cup and expect they are going to be one of the front runners for promotion this season, so it’s a really tough test straight out of the blocks.

“I don’t know much about their current squad but they’ve demonstrated they are a very good side.

“Defensively they were keeping clean sheets against step five and step four sides and they were scoring regularly so we’re going to have to be at our best if we are to get off to a good start.”

The boss is just excited that they can now return to competitive football at long last, although he is grateful his side got to play some games this year, albeit cup games.

“I’m really excited to get back to the start of the competitive season. I feel fortunate that we were able to get the team back together for the Len Cordell Cup and pre-season but it’s not the same as going out every week and competing in the league,” he added.

Barkingside have pitted their wits against a number of different opponents from different levels during pre-season as boss Le Sage searched for the right balance in his squad.

“Results wise, pre-season has been pretty mixed for us. We’ve been trying to find the right balance for the side whilst looking at some players to replace some of the departures we’ve had," he said.

“The lads have worked really hard and shown great commitment so hopefully their efforts are rewarded when the season starts.”

The first home fixture will be the following week when they welcome Haverhill Borough to Cricklefield Stadium on Saturday, August 7.