Manager Brian Barry-Murphy reflects on Wednesday night’s pre-season friendly against Huddersfield Town and looks ahead to Saturday’s match at Oldham Athletic...
“It was very rewarding for me to see the players encounter good opposition, and it was a great test for us at such an early stage of the season,” said BBM.
“There’s a huge element of building towards the fitness and conditioning that Kevin Gibbins wants our team to play at.
“But we’re a long way from where we want to be, and we can only get there through gradual building blocks and really applying ourselves in a focussed and committed manner in training every day.
“Wednesday’s match was a continuation of that, and the lads showed real elements of starting to bring speed into their game. It was good to see those elements of speed in the performance as they build up towards an exciting part of the pre-season plan.”
A couple of youth team players were included in the squad for the game – Louie Clarkson and Morgan Moreland – with Clarkson coming on as a second half substitute.
“We’re very clear this season that we’re going to have a much smaller squad to work from. Within that squad we have a high level of player. We don’t believe the fact that we have lesser numbers is a hindrance to us.
“It allows us to incorporate the younger members of our squad and our Academy players, giving them a taste of it. It would have been very easy for Huddersfield to run up a score as we became very weak towards the end of the game, but the result wasn’t of any concern to me.
“It was very important that we got the conditioning element right for our players and the benefit and bonus of that was that we got some of the younger players on to the first-team pitch and gave them an experience of what it’s like to play at home.”
BBM told us last week that Eoghan O’Connell and Ollie Rathbone missed out on the last few days on training in Portugal due to minor injuries, and he confirmed after Wednesday night’s match they are continuing to be monitored.
“We’re just at a stage of the season where we don’t want to incur any unnecessary damage to the guys. They’re not quite right and they’re following a very strict programme. They’re close to returning but I don’t want to take any risks and rush them back for friendlies.
“In the past, as a player, I was always dead keen to be fit for the first game of the season, but it is only the first game. I think Eoghan is going to be a couple of weeks from where we’re at, and Ollie is going to be a couple of days. Those things can change as they near their return to games, so we’re just keeping an eye on them.”
Saturday’s pre-season friendly against the Latics is being played in memory of Ernie Cooksey who sadly passed away in 2008.
BBM believes that it’s a fitting tribute.
“I played against Ernie. I think it’s very fitting that it’s going to be in his memory.
“It’ll be a poignant day for a lot of people, and it touched me when I thought about it.
“On the football side of things, it’s a great game and the element of it being a local derby will bring the intensity that we want in pre-season. It will replicate what it’s going to be like when we go into August and beyond that.”