Bristol Rovers will start their pre-season campaign away from non-league opponents, the club has confirmed.

The Gas will return to training in the last week of June to prepare for life in the second division and their first friendly will be against Melksham Town.

Joey Bartons Rovers will head to Oakfield Stadium for kick-off at 7.45pm on July 2nd to play Richard Fey’s side, who will play in the Southern League Division One South next season.

The Gas, scheduled to begin a SAS-style boot camp in Hereford in early July, will then travel to Westleigh Park to take on the National League South Side Havant & Waterlooville on July 13 at 7.45pm.

Rovers plan to announce their home games at a later date to digest further government updates and audience guidance.

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It will be the first time Gasheads have seen rovers play in the flesh since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets for both games are available from the host clubs, with an initial capacity of 1,500 planned for the trip to Melksham, and fans will have the opportunity to see newcomers Paul Coutts, Sam Finley, Mark Hughes and Nick Anderton at their first game in see a rovers shirt.

Barton discussed his pre-season plans before the Rovers’ relegation season came to an end and warned his payers that they are facing a testing period this summer.

“I told the boys that if someone got out of shape in preparation for the season it would be their last day at the football club,” he said.

“What do you need the schnapps for in summer? You have one season off. After what we did this year, why do you need to take a vacation and rest?

“You had a long break from COVID last year, it doesn’t look like you have had a preseason this season based on physical performance.

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“I think the guys should take a week off just to get mentally fit and then get their bodies in shape for our first day of pre-season.

“The way I like my group to train, the intensity level is way, way above the current intensity level of our boys.

“So when they have the off-season they will not be able to deal with it, leaving them injured early in the pre-season and left by the rest of the group and the players we have.” bring in.

“If you go this off-season, you are not with Bristol Rovers.”