RICHARD Hill believes Eastleigh have landed the toughest start in the Vanarama National League.

Following Saturday's (3pm) opener on Bromley's new 3G pitch, the Spitfires entertain Sutton (Tuesday, 7.45pm) and Dagenham & Redbridge in the space of five days.

Woking (away), Tranmere (home), Leyton Orient (away) and Aldershot (home) are also crammed into a testing August for Hill’s new-look squad.

“I think out of all the teams, we’ve got the worst start,” said Hill. “You couldn't have cherry-picked a worse seven or eight games.”

Hill’s belief that astroturf pitches should be barred from the National League is well documented, but what he can’t understand is why there is no rule in place allowing visiting teams to train on the surface beforehand.

“I find it strange we can’t go and play on it in the week leading up to the game,” he said. “There used to be a rule like that when QPR and Luton had plastic pitches. You could go and play on them the day before.

“Any first game of the season is tough, but we’re at an extra disadvantage because we don’t know how Bromley’s pitch is going to play. So we enter this game as underdogs based on the surface.”

The jury is out on whether artificial turf causes more injuries than grass but, irrespective of that, Hill will take no chances with his squad.

James Constable (foot) is a doubt, Paul McCallum has sat out a couple of days' training and fellow forward Chris Zebroski only returned to training today after missing the Sheffield United friendly with a slight groin strain.

“The emphasis is on winning the first game, I get that, but I’ve never been involved in a one-game season,” said Hill.

“Chris Zebroski trained today and trained well, but if I think these players aren’t right, I won’t risk them.

“For me the end of the season is more important than the start. If you get on a run from January you can be unstoppable at times as you’ve seen during my last spell here.

“We’ve got seven games in 23 days and if I play someone who’s not right, it could put him out for two months.”

With Eastleigh’s injury concerns all in the attacking department, this week’s signing of centre-forward Ben Williamson, released by Cambridge United, is timely.

"Ben could be anything. He's different to what we've got. He runs in behind," said Hill.

"He should have scored far more goals than he has done in his career, but we're hopeful he can get himself in a purple patch.

"We've got good competition up front now with McCallum, Zebroski, Craig McAllister and Williamson - plus Constable who I believe has something to offer playing from a bit deeper, but we've still got him as a forward if needed."