International fare is on the menu at the Autoworld Arena on Monday night as Matlock Town host North American Soccer League Minnesota United in a prestige friendly.

The Gladiators snapped up the opportunity to stage the match following talks involving local Championship side Derby County who will also face Minnesota at their Moor Farm training headquarters a week later.

Founded just four years ago in 2010, the Loons or United, as they are known, are visiting England as part of their pre season preparations, and will arrive at the Autoworld with three games under their belt. A 1-1 draw against Cal State Fullerton was followed by a narrow 2-1 loss against the LA Galaxy 11 team, with the LA Galaxy first team to follow before they fly to England.

Their squad is multi-national with thirteen from the USA, three Brazilians and one each from Italy, Jamaica, Serbia and Japan, including midfielder Omar Daley, a former Scottish Premier League star with Motherwell who has made seventy international appearances for the Jamaicans.

Head Coach Manny Lagos was a member of the Usa’s Olympic team in 1992 while Assistant Coach Carl Craig and Goalkeeping Coach Paul O’Connor have roots in the north east of England. Craig moved across the water from Newcastle in 1994 while O’Connor was a former professional and semi professional in England, hailing from Easington.

And for Matlock fans there’s a special treat as James Lukic will be making an appearance.

Lukic, second in the Gladiators’ appearance records behind Mick Fenoughty, has played more than 600 games for the club, but due to a troublesome injury and work commitments, has not featured at all this season.

“It’s a one off”explained Matlock boss Mark Atkins. “He’s hardly trained so we don’t know how long he’ll last but it’s a chance for the fans to see him in action for Matlock again, and if things go well for him, who knows, we might see him back next season . We thought it nice for a player who has given the club such outstanding commitment and service, to be able to play in a game which should be a great spectacle and will be a fantastic experience for both the players and the fans.”

Kick off at the Autoworld Arena is at 7.45 pm with entrance fees set at £7 for adults, £4 for concessions with juniors under 12 being given free admission.

Man of the match presentations will be made after the game in the Autoworld Lounge on the ground.

IAN RICHARDSON

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