LEE BRADBURY believes the visit of Pompey is crucial preparation as the Hawks seek to bounce straight back into the National South.
The Hawks will start the season in the Ryman League premier division with a new-look squad following relegation.
They began their friendly programme with a 3-1 win at Wessex League premier division side Moneyfields on Saturday.
Bradbury knows, however, his players will face a totally different challenge from Pompey tonight (7pm).
‘We always relish the chance to test ourselves against full-time professional players,’ he said.
‘It is a good yardstick to test ourselves against.
‘Against Moneyfields we had 70 per cent of the possession and it was a useful loosener.
‘Against Portsmouth I am expecting that situation will be reversed.
‘Portsmouth are likely to have the lion’s share of the ball and it will give us a chance to work on our shape when we don’t have it.
‘A few of our players were at Portsmouth early in their careers and they always want to do well against them.
‘The likes of Alfie Rutherford, Ryan Woodford and Bradley Tarbuck will want to do well against the club that released them.
‘I am looking for us to continue our hard work and get more fitness under our belts.
‘It is a game where we will find out a lot more about ourselves.
‘We will certainly need to make sure that we are switched on, alert and on our mettle the whole time.’
Midfielder Theo Lewis returns to Westleigh Park for the first time since agreeing to sign for the Hawks.
However, central defender Ed Harris is not ready to return from a knee injury.
– KEVIN RICKETTS