JOHN Coventry cannot wait for East Thurrock United’s Isthmian Premier League campaign to get underway after enduring the ‘worst pre-season’ of his managerial career.

Rocks, who suffered relegation from the National League South last term, will welcome Cheshunt to Rookery Hill for their season opener tomorrow.

And - having seen his side depleted due to injuries, holidays and work commitments throughout the summer - Coventry is pleased for competitive football to return.

“It’s been the worst ever pre-season of my managerial career for a number of reasons,” said Coventry, who has been in charge of East Thurrock since taking over in 2007.

“Results don’t really matter in pre-season and you don’t mind getting beaten if you’re seeing improvements, players developing and looking to get to where we want to be.

“But, up until the midweek win over Tilbury, there were no positives whatsoever to take from pre-season.

“There is still plenty of room for improvement.”

Cheshunt will make the trip to Rookery Hill having beaten Canvey Island last weekend.

And Coventry is expecting a tough test against the Ambers, who are managed by former Billericay Town boss Craig Edwards.

“I have come up against Craig on many occasions in the past,” added Coventry.

“We know what we are going to get because Craig’s sides are always big, strong, aggressive and well organised.

“There is not a right way of playing football, but Craig’s style is effective.

“We know it will be a very difficult game, as I think every game will be this season.

“Admittedly, we are entering the unknown because we were in the National League South for three seasons and haven’t played a lot of the teams now in the Isthmian Premier League for a number of years.”

Coventry will be watching from the Rookery Hill stands this weekend as he serves a touchline ban.

Following numerous summer departures, Coventry has been working frantically to bring reinforcements to Rocks ahead of the new term.

And he was impressed with some of the arrivals as East Thurrock claimed a 4-3 win over Tilbury to clinch the Robin Nash Memorial Cup.

“Lewis Smith and Mitch Gilbey were excellent,” admitted Coventry.

“Mitch has worked his socks off in every game he has played and Frankie Merrifield was also good.

“It was great to see Jordan Brown on the pitch and it was nice to have a left-footed player at left-back.”

Although Coventry is working to bolster his options further, he is not expecting to welcome more signings before tomorrow’s Isthmian Premier League curtain-raiser.

“We have put some feelers out there,” confirmed Coventry.

“But time is running out to bring any players in for this weekend.”