NATIONWIDE Division One outfit Crystal Palace are heading to Western Way next month for a friendly against Steve Slade's Bemerton Heath Harlequins.

The Quins' boss said he was "absolutely delighted" to have secured the fixture and hopes a bumper crowd will turn out to give the Jewson Wessex League club a pre-season lift.

It is hoped that Palace, now managed by their former player Steve Kember, will bring a strong squad to Salisbury for the game.

Slade told Journal Sport: "They specifically asked for that date as they're on a pre-season tour down this way."

The Harlequins supremo is pleased with his club's progress during the summer and hopes the season ahead will bring about an improvement in fortunes on the field.

"We've had players training non-stop throughout the summer," said Slade. "They've kept themselves really fit and hopefully that'll be a factor when we get under way."

The Heath boss is about to unveil a number of new faces at the club.

"We know we lacked fire power up front last time and that's an area we've been working hard on."

One player definitely on his way out of Western Way however, is influential goalkeeper and penalty king Colin Hopkins who has joined rivals Andover.

"Of course we're sorry to see him go," admitted Slade.

"But I think Colin felt he needed a change and he couldn't turn down the kind of money And-over are paying out."

Quins' league campaign kicks off on Saturday, August 16 with a trip to Gosport Borough - the first of six away matches in as many weeks.

Slade joked that his players might be suffering from travel sickness during the early part of the season after the league handed them just three home fixtures in their opening nine encounters.

"I don't know if it's because they know our ground has great drainage and that we rarely have to postpone games through the winter that they've made us start so many games away.

"It's not ideal, but there's not a lot you can do about it."

Fortunately, home draws in the FA competitions have added some semblance of normality to their early season fixture list.

They entertain Devon-based Torrington FC on Saturday, August 30 in an FA Cup Preliminary Round tie, before Wootton Bassett make the short journey across Wiltshire for the Second Qualifying Round of the Vase on Saturday, September 20.