ASSISTANT manager Noel Hunt says Swindon Town want to use the impending pre-season programme to try to strengthen the bond between the team and its supporters.

Just two of Town’s seven summer friendly fixtures take place on home turf, although they are the most high-profile games awaiting Richie Wellens’ side as Birmingham City and Coventry City visit the Energy Check County Ground.

Three other matches take place away at non-league sides in Wiltshire in the shape of Swindon Supermarine, Salisbury and Melksham Town, while the other two games on Town’s pre-season list – at Brimscombe & Thrupp and Hungerford Town – do not require much in the way of travel either.

The Town players report back for the start of their summer training programme on Monday, June 24, before their first friendly takes place eight days later in Gloucestershire against Brimscombe.

Wellens’ number two at SN1, Hunt, says Town have planned their summer schedule in a way to best increase affinity with the club’s fanbase before the new League Two season begins on August 3.

Speaking to the Adver, Hunt said: “The importance of the fans cannot be underestimated, especially for a club like Swindon Town.

“We understand that it is a big club. I have lived down the road from Swindon for the last 10 years and I understand the history of the club and how important it is for the town itself.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the more people we can get to games, the more people we can engage with and the more youngsters we can get through the gate, then the better it will be.

“If we can build a bond between the players and fans, it is better for everyone.”

Hunt says Town received invitations to play friendlies from a host of non-league clubs from across the south of England but Wellens and his staff actively chose opponents nearby to try to interact with potential new supporters who may be swayed to follow the club on a more long-term basis.

Gates at the County Ground averaged just below 6,500 last season, although that figure was still the fifth highest in League Two.

Hunt says energising crowds at SN1 can play a crucial role in the club’s potential success on the pitch come the new season.

“We thought we would keep it local,” said Hunt.

“We had offers from all over the south to go and play, but the main thing for us as a team is to go out into the community and play games.

“It is of a massive importance to us that we get numbers through the doors to create an atmosphere to help us on our journey next season.”