NORTHWICH Victoria will be back on the pitch sooner than expected.

Despite their North West Counties League season being curtailed, Steve Wilkes' side will be in action next month having been invited to take part in the Heys Invitational Tournament.

From April 17, 16 teams will compete in groups of four at four different locations, with Vics in Group Two alongside Padiham, Chadderton and hosts Prestwich Heys.

Group One will be hosted by Squires Gate and also features AFC Blackpool, Charnock Richard and Garstang while Group Three contains Ashton Town, Pilkington, St Helens Town and hosts Longridge Town.

The final group – Group Four – is hosted by Bootle, who will face Lower Breck, AFC Liverpool and Litherland REMYCA.

Following the round-robin group stage, the top two in each group will advance to the quarter-finals – each location will host one last-eight tie – with the semi-finals and final both taking place at Prestwich Heys' Adie Moran Park.

It is hoped fans will be allowed to attend at least some, if not all of the games and in this instance, entry will be free of charge.

Northwich Victoria's Heys Invitational Cup fixtures (group matches at Prestwich Heys):

Saturday, April 17 – vs Chadderton (3.30pm kick off)

Saturday, April 24 – vs Padiham (3.30pm)

Saturday, May 1 – vs Prestwich Heys (3.30pm)

Quarter finals – Saturday, May 8

Semi-finals – Saturday, May 15

Final – Saturday, May 22