EXCITEMENT is beginning to build as Bury prepare to welcome Walsall when the League One season kicks off this weekend.

Manager Lee Clark is hoping to have a shot at promotion during his first full season in charge of the club.

His first test of the new campaign comes against Jon Whitney’s Saddlers.

There have been 17 goals in the last three meetings between the two sides and last year’s encounters both finished 3-3 in thrilling circumstances.

Clark has had his scouting team watching the Saddlers’ every move since the fixtures were released, but he is more focused on what his side have to offer than that of his visitors.

“It all begins in earnest on Saturday, that’s what it’s all about,” Clark told Bury Times. “We’re excited, we’ve got a good group of players that can deliver us what we want, that’s to start the season well, get confidence, get all the new signings settled in as early as possible and kick on from there. Walsall have got some exciting players, they play good football. Their manager will have them extremely fit, he is from that background so we know we will have a tough game.

“We have obviously had them watched three or four times in pre-season but is there a lot we can take from that? We are not too sure until we find out their team on Saturday.

“We have done as much work as we can on them in terms of getting people out there. The key for us this year is what we’re about and how we go about our business.”

Bury’s pre-season has not all gone according to plan and their preparation hit a bump when their final pre-season game against Tranmere was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch.

But Clark called all of his players in the following morning to complete an in-house 11-a-side match at Carrington.

“It did affect us because we actually turned up at the stadium,” Clark said. “We arrived and saw it was unplayable so on Saturday morning we had our lads complete a full 11 v 11.

“We had officials and tried to make it as match-realistic as possible. It enabled me to let all of the players get sufficient time under their belts.

“We felt it went well, we feel we’re in a good place now in terms of the endurance side of it.”

Bury will be without full-back Phil Edwards and centre-back Eoghan O’Connell for the start of the season.

Edwards will miss the first three matches due to a knee injury picked up in training, while O’Connell is ruled out for 10 weeks after hobbling off during the pre-season draw with Crewe, with his own knee problem.

“We have picked up one or two unfortunate injuries, knee issues that really couldn’t be prevented” Clark added.

“Thankfully we got Phil done really quickly. He will miss the first three games which is only the first week, that won’t be an issue.

“With Eoghan, as everybody saw against Crewe, it was an innocuous challenge. It’s proved to be an unfortunate one but thankfully we got a good prognosis. It was the shortest time we could have expected in 10 weeks.

“Thankfully, even though they have been injured it is for the shortest possible times for their specific injuries.”