Rochdale begin their next phase of preparation for the 2013/14 campaign on Tuesday evening with the first of seven scheduled pre-season friendly fixtures.
Keith Hill’s new look side make the trip to Valley Road in Flixton to face Northwich Victoria and while the Gaffer won’t divulge his team selection, he says the whole squad will be travelling to the game.
“It’s more than probable that Joel will be playing right back but that’s all I’m willing to divulge," said Hill. "With respect to the squad, the whole squad will be going. We’ve been training today (Monday) and we’ll train tomorrow prior to the game and then we’ll all be going to the match in preparation for 90 minutes of work.
“Joel has got to learn about passing the ball, keeping possession and picking his head up. He can’t always dribble and shoot that is why he'll likely play at right back. Am I going to make sacrifices in pre-season? Of course I am. I want to develop these players and that’s where there has got to be an understanding and a trust in me. I want to be able to develop players, give them an opportunity to be successful and this is unique for me as Manager because I can really do what I want in preparation for the season knowing that there’s no real negative impact.”
Trialist Lois Maynard who spent a week with the team in Tenerife is set to feature for Dale in some of the upcoming friendly matches. He made a good impression during the pre-season camp and Hill says he’ll see him action in these games before making a final decision on him.
“We’re preparing for Lois to play in some of the pre-season games, but more importantly in one of the games against Blackburn or Preston and that’ll be a real test for him. He’s done magnificently because I think a little bit of exposure of the professional game maybe caught him by surprise a little, but I’ve got to remember that it’s something that he’s not been used to and he’s coped admirably. He’s had a lot of praise during the week but he’s also beat himself up once or twice because he made a few minor mistakes but everyone does it and everyone has. I’ve got to look at the bigger picture and whether he’s compatible with what we’re trying to achieve and so far he’s done magnificently well. It’s just about making sure that we prepare him and make sure that he’s in a good state to play in the pre-season friendlies, but more importantly one of those big games. I do feel as though there is a player there, but my overall decision will based on whether he’s ready for the first team this season and that’s what I want him to be in because he’s 24-years-old.”
For Hill, the pre-season games are a continuation of the work that is currently being done on the training pitch in preparation for the season ahead, and he says we shouldn’t read too much into results.
“For me, the pre-season games mean nothing but preparation for the Hartlepool game in August. There’s too much emphasis put on these pre-season friendlies. I know supporters want to see the new players for the first time and to see how well they’re going to do individually or as a team, but I’ve never read anything into it and sometimes it can cause more problems than it’s worth with respect to injuries.
“Pre-season friendlies don’t really help me too much other than put into practice certain strategies that we want to perform and that’s what we’ll be looking to do. I don’t want anyone playing psychological games on results because if I’m honest the results mean nothing. It’s just preparation work and a continuation of the fine work that we’ve been doing on the training pitch.”