Blackpool recovered from a slow start to 2020-21, which saw them lose five of their first seven games, to eventually finish in the playoffs and beat Lincoln City in the final.
Now, for the first time since May 2015, the Seasiders are back in the second tier and the aim will be to dodge relegation.
Neil Critchley deserves big praise for guiding Pool out of League One in his first season in senior management, but the 42-year-old has little time to prepare for the new season.
A handful of new players have been brought in, including a trio – Josh Bowler, Callum Connolly and Shayne Lavery – who have Everton connections.
All focus now will be on the opening Championship clash with Bristol City on August 7, but Critchley’s charges have eight friendlies to play before then.
That includes a couple of run-outs on back-to-back days this week, as they follow up Friday night’s match with Squires Gate with this game against Southport.
With that in mind, it is likely that Critchley will split his squad and field two lineups made up of first team and Under-23s players for both matches.
That presents Southport with a chance to pull off an upset, albeit in a friendly, in what is their first match since February due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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The Sandgrounders will then face Runcorn Linnets, Huddersfield Town, Longridge Town, Barrow, Warrington Town and Everton Under-23s before their National League North season begins.
Liam Watson will continue to strengthen his squad before the curtain-raising fixture with Gloucester City in a month’s time, having already brought in four new signings so far.