BILLERICAY Town boss Harry Wheeler is looking forward to a competitive pre-season programme.

The National League South side will get their preparations for the forthcoming campaign underway by taking on an All-Star XI in a charity clash, before welcoming Southend United to the AGP Arena.

Clashes with Grays Athletic, Hendon, Boreham Wood and Hornchurch will follow and Wheeler cannot wait to see his side return to action.

Wheeler said: “We start out with a charity event against some celebrities and former Premier League players, so that will be a nice way to get pre-season underway.

“From there, we go onto a tough game against Southend and they will bring their first team.

“We can’t wait for pre-season to get going and we will get our heads down immediately.”

An All-Star XI - which is expected to include former Premier League stars Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood - will be Billericay’s first test at the AGP Arena on July 7.

Kevin Bond’s Southend will then be Town’s next visitors two days later, with the League One Shrimpers set to select their first team.

A short trip to Grays, who ply their trade in the Isthmian North, is due to follow on July 17.

Billericay will be on their travels again when they visit Hendon on July 23.

Four days later, Town will return to the AGP Arena to take on National League side Boreham Wood.

Billericay’s final pre-season encounter will take place at Hornchurch on July 30.

Although Town have gone head-to-head with a West Ham United XI in each of the last two summers, Wheeler was keen to avoid a similar outing.

Wheeler added: “I wanted us to get ready for the new season by playing in competitive fixtures.

“I think it’s important for us to prepare by playing teams who are at our level - for instance one or two divisions above and below - because that will give us a clear indication of where we are.

“In the past we have played youth teams from Premier League sides, like a lot of other teams do, but I will learn more from my players if we play teams in divisions around us rather than a team of youngsters.”