Linnets will prosper says keeper Howie

Chris Lakey King's Lynn keeper Scott Howie insists the club will cope with the step up to Blue Square North ahead of tonight's opening pre-season test at S & L Corby.

Chris Lakey

King's Lynn keeper Scott Howie insists the club will cope with the step up to Blue Square North ahead of tonight's opening pre-season test at

S & L Corby (7.45pm).

Linnets' chief Keith Webb is poised to give all his squad a run out against the United Counties League outfit in the scheduled practice match split over three 30 minute segments.

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Jack Defty is the only survivor from the last meeting between the sides - an FA Cup first qualifying round replay win in Corby in 2003.

Former Cambridge United captain Mark Peters became Webb's fourth new recruit after star striker Julian Joachim was unveiled at The Walks last week. Ex-Boston defender Simon Weaver and former Bromsgrove midfielder David Bridgewater joined earlier in the summer.

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Mark Warren, Matt Nolan and the recently released Dean West have all left the club's Southern League, title winning side - but Howie (pictured) is confident Lynn's new look squad will be competitive.

"All the boys here are all more than capable of playing at the level we are going into," he said. "Whether it is going to be a big step up or not who knows - I don't know enough about the league to be able to say.

"But I have played with the lads last year and the year before and I don't see any problems in them stepping up - most of them have got experience at a higher level than that."

King's Lynn's promise of recent seasons finally materialised last season, when they pipped Team Bath to the Southern League title to earn themselves visits to parts of England they haven't seen on a regular basis since their days in the Northern Premier League in the early 1980s.

Howie, among the majority of last season's victorious squad to have agreed to stay on at The Walks, believes that sort of continuity will serve the team well - especially as they are currently on an unbeaten league run stretching back to early January.

"I think it is nice to have some sort of continuity because there was a great spirit last year," Howie added. "I think winning creates that spirit as well. We went through 20-odd games unbeaten at the tail end of last year and to be able to carry that into this year is going to be important."

A year ago Howie was looking forward to some rest from the game after 16 seasons which saw him win Scotland Under-21 honours, a £300,000 move to Norwich, spells at Motherwell, Reading, Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury, for whom he proved to be a play-off hero, saving three spot-kicks in a penalty shoot-out in the 2004 Conference play-off final.

The match went to penalties, and Howie saved three spot-kicks as the Shrews won promotion back to the Football League.

Howie came out of retirement in April 2007, to help Lynn, and when Paul Crichton moved to Brighton, manager Keith Webb persuaded the Scot, who runs his own financial services business, to wipe the mud off his boots again.

"I think I might have retired three or four times now," laughed Howie. "I love playing here, I think it is a great club and I really enjoy it. The boys are fantastic.

"I spoke to Keith at the start of the season. I have my own business that takes a little time away from football, but I committed as much as I could in terms of games. I just organise everything around the game and make sure everything is sorted out for the games.

"The manager has brought a couple of bodies in and I am sure he is going to add to the squad again, but I think we are going to have a strong team.

"I'm really looking forward to it - I'm looking forward to the first game and getting up and started. We can probably re-evaluate things after four or five games and see where we are with it and take it from there."

Lynn have confirmed admission prices for the three pre-season home friendly fixtures at The Walks against Cambridge United (Saturday), Clyde (next Tuesday) and a Norwich City XI (Tuesday).

Adults £9, concessions £5 and children £2. Free entry to season ticket holders who can produce their season tickets at the ground on each matchday.

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