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FOOTBALL: THE FOX TROT; Leicester will play Woking then Barca.. in 48 hours!

Byline: GARY FITZGERALD

HERE we go again, folks. The football season's back - and it's going to be bigger than ever.

Yes, it's that time of year when the Premiership stars jet off around the globe to prepare for the big kick-off on August 16.

Newly-promoted Leicester will take on Spanish giants Barcelona at the Walker's Stadium..just 48 hours after a clash with Nationwide Conference outfit Woking.

Champions Manchester United are breaking new pre-season ground by flying across The Pond. There's no David Beckham but can Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ryan Giggs and the boys win over America's reluctant soccer public?

Fergie might bump into Graeme Souness on their jaunt as Blackburn have a big date in Washington DC.

The United boss knows all about the problems one can run into in South Africa but that's where Glenn Hoddle's Spurs will spend a few days fine-tuning their Premiership charge.

Arsene Wenger is leading Thierry Henry and Co to Austria and then Glasgow for a battle royale with Scottish champions Rangers.

Harry Kewell and his new Liverpool team-mates will be in the Far East while Birmingham, Chelsea and Newcastle are all heading for Kuala Lumpur for the Asia Cup.

With trips to Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Holland also planned, the airports of Europe will be littered with expensive footballers over the next few weeks.

Here's our super guide to the friendlies.

ARSENAL: July 19 - Barnet (a); July 22-29: Austrian tournament (Ritzing, Austria Vienna and Besiktas); Aug 2 - Celtic (a); Aug 5: Rangers (a).

ASTON VILLA: Tour of Finland and Swede (July 22-29); Aug 2: Walsall (a); Aug 5: Scunthorpe; Aug 9-10: Dublin Four-Team Tournament v Leeds, Shelbourne, St Patricks.

BIRMINGHAM: July 19: Burton Albion (a); July 30: Port Vale (a); Aug 2: Burnley (a); Aug 5: Walsall (a); July 24-27: Asia Cup (Malaysia).

BLACKBURN: July 23: Washington DC Utd (a); July 30: Blackpool (a); Aug 2: Wigan (a); Aug 6: Bray Wanderers, Dublin (a); Aug 10: Chievo Verona (h).

BOLTON: July 16: Ballymena (a); July 19: Portadown (a); July 23: Royal Antwerp (h); July 29-Aug 2 Malta Tour; Aug 6: Real Mallorca (h).

CHARLTON: July 19: Welling (a); July 22: Colchester (a); July 25: Leyton Orient (a); July 26: Peterborough (a); July 30: Plymouth (a); Aug 1: Cardiff (a); Aug 4: QPR (a); Aug 9: NEC Nijmegen, Holland (h).

CHELSEA: July 18: Lazio (a); July 24-27: Asia Cup; Aug 2: C Palace (a); Aug 5: Watford (a).

EVERTON: July 22: *Rochdale (a), *Crewe (a) (*first-team squad split in two). July 26: Rangers (a); July 30: Dundee Utd (a); Aug 2: Preston (a); Aug 5: Roda (Holland) (a); Aug 10: Bologna (h).

FULHAM: July 17: Celtic (h); July 23: ASK Voitsberg (a); July 26: AS Roma (a); Aug 2: Motherwell (a); Aug 5: Livingston (a); Aug 10: Real Mallorca (h).

LEEDS: July 19: Bristol City (a); July 23: York (a); July 27: Burnley (a); Aug 1: Hull (a); Aug 9-10: Four-Team Tournament (Dublin).

LEICESTER: July 21: Kidderminster (a); July 22-28: Finland tour; Aug 2: Blackburn (a); Aug 4: Brighton (a); Aug 6: Woking (a); Aug 8: Barcelona (h).

LIVERPOOL: July 16: FC Cologne (a); July 19 Crewe (a); July 24: Thailand (a); Aug 1: Ajax (a); Aug 3: Galatasaray (a); Aug 5: Aberdeen (a); Aug 12: Fleetwood (a).

MANCHESTER CITY: July 19: Mansfield (a); July 22: Odense, Denmark (a); July 25: Feyenoord (a); July 29: Lincoln (a); Aug 2: Oldham (a); Aug 6: TBC (new home stadium). Aug 10: Barcelona (h).

MANCHESTER UNITED: July 22-Aug 3: US Tour (Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Philedelphia); Aug 6: Sporting Lisbon (a); Aug 13: Stoke (a).

MIDDLESBROUGH: July 26: Hull (a); July 30: Rotherham (a); Aug 2: Sheffield United (a); Aug 9: Chievo (h).

NEWCASTLE: July 24-27: Asia Cup (Malaysia); Aug 1: Sheff Wed (a); Aug 5: Bayern Munich (h).

PORTSMOUTH: July 16: Exeter (a); July 19: Bournemouth (a); July 22: Havant and Waterlooville (a); July 25: Swindon; July 30: Kilmarnock (a); Aug 2: Dunfermline (a); Aug 5: Brentford (a); Aug 9: Feyenoord (h).

SOUTHAMPTON: July 23-July 29: Sweden Tour; Aug 1: Reading (a); Aug 3: Millwall (a); Aug 6: TBC (h); Aug 9: Parma (h).

TOTTENHAM: July 16: Stevenage (a); July 19: Wycombe (a); July 20: Oxford (a); July 22: Norwich (a); July 26-29: South Africa Tour (Orlando Pirates and Kaiser Chiefs); Aug 3: PSV Eindhoven (h); Aug 10: Sporting Lisbon (h).

WOLVES: July 14: *Bristol Rovers (a) and *Hereford (a) (*squad split in two); July 16: Swindon (a); July 25: Den Haag (at Telford); July 29: Yeovil (a); Aug 2: Coventry (a); Aug 8: Boavista (h).

CAPTION(S):

KIT OF ALL RIGHT...Barry Hearn has gone to extraordinary lengths to transform Leyton Orient from 'southern softies' to promotion hardnuts. The Brisbane Road owner has swapped the old red away kit for a new menacing black one. He said: "It's time we started playing to our potential and that means promotion. We've been far too soft in the past and hopefully this new black kit will sort that out."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2003
Words:834
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