WHILE England's footballers slink off after their Euro 2012 disappointment, local teams are gearing up for a new season still months ahead.

East Gwent Senior League side Severn Tunnel NPC played a friendly against an All-Stars team from County League Division 3, to give a run-out to a number of potential new players while Mathern Wanderers announced plans for a pre-season Six-A-Side tournament aimed at raising much-needed club funds.

Although losing 2-1 in the friendly, Tunnel's manager Ken Nurden declared himself pleased with the team's performance.

He was reluctant to name names of the new players - mainly because they could still move to other clubs - but Nurden is hopeful of signing at least two new players to stiffen competition for places in the team and help the club achieve its ambitions.

"We want to progress and, eventually, win promotion to a higher level but to do that, we need a better squad and certain improvements to the pitch," he said.

"We have already started the ball rolling and we want to keep the momentum going. It won't happen overnight but we are ambitious and we want to let people know it."

The match, played in three half-hour slots at All Stars request, gave both managers the chance to give potential signings ample time to show their skills.

"The score wasn't important - the main thing was to have a look at new players and see how they fitted in with our team. The signs were very encouraging," Nurden added.

"We have a few other matches in the pipeline and we will probably enter two teams into the Mathern Wanderers tournament."

That event, on July 28th, starts at 10am and has a trophy and a cash prize for the winning team.

Organiser Gareth Moore is hopeful of attracting 16 teams but pointed out that there will be a lot of other attractions to make for a family day out.

"There will be a bouncy castle and football-related games as well and food and refreshments and it should be a great day," Moore said.

"The winners will have a trophy and a prize of £50 and we have already had a lot of interest. The standard of competition should be very good.

"We see this as an inaugural event, the first of what we hope will become an annual tournament for clubs to use in the close season."

This season, Mathern will include a number of players from the Division 1 champions Tintern Abbey as Moore seeks to achieve promotion to the County League.

However, he will lose the services of a young player who impressed with solid performances last season.

"Jonathan Blamire will be off to study sports coaching at university in Blackburn, and he will be greatly missed," Moore admitted.

"But I am confident we have the players here to mount a serious challenge for the title and promotion."

Training starts this week, although a venue has still to be found as the pitch at Mathern cannot be used for training sessions during the closed season.

"If anyone wants to join us, they can ring me on 07515 328329 to check on the venue and anyone who wants to enter a team in the Six-A-Side tournament should call the same number. Entry fee is £25 per team."