Stoke City have added another friendly to their pre-season plan as the countdown speeds up to the Championship kick-off.
Stoke played their second warm-up game of the month today when they took on Burton Albion at the bet365 Stadium, having played Linfield in Belfast last week.
They take on Shrewsbury Town at Clayton Wood on Tuesday then have a Carabao Cup first round tie against Blackpool next Saturday.
Newly-promoted Leeds United have now been added to the plan, back at the training ground on Tuesday, September 1 before a friendly against Newcastle United on Saturday, September 5.
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The league action then gets underway with a trip to Millwall on Saturday, September 12 – and from that point the fixtures are relentless.
A regular season is squeezed into a month shorter than normal – but the hectic schedule to come didn’t tempt Michael O’Neill to organise fewer friendlies.
And the manager still has a lot of work to do to streamline his squad before the season starts or at least before the international transfer deadline on October 5 or domestic deadline on October 16.
“These games are different,” he said. “You can’t throw players straight into games.
“We have a lot of bodies at the moment and we have to try to trim the squad. We have to try to get players out who are surplus to requirements.
“And we have to make sure that come September 12 we are ready to play, that’s the target.
“The Carabao Cup is important, of course it is, but ultimately our focus is on the league. We have to pick a team which is ready to play next week.”