Academy manager Alan Moore on pre-season so far
Youth coach Alan Moore spoke to us about pre-season with the U18 squad as things start to build up to the 2 August season kick off.
“It's been a busy few days for the lads but that's how I like to get their fitness into them,” he said. “We've had plenty of games that have presented many challenges, both psychologically and physically.
“We had three half hour games against Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Bury on Saturday which meant we were up against a Category One, Category Two and a Category Three club.
“You can see the difference between them. Manchester United were technically very good whereas Sheffield Wednesday were a bit more physical. It was good to be able to play all three because it allows the lads to see what it's like at the next levels up.”
“We also played Sunderland on Monday and we had the Preston game today [Wednesday] so it's a busy period for the lads,” he said. “Sunderland were different class on the ball and some of their movement was really impressive, but our lads stayed in the game. You can see they're listening to us and learning so we had a lot of positives to take from it.
“We can do sessions in the classroom and walk throughs on the training pitch, but it's very important for them to actually see things like movement off the ball. We ended up beating Sunderland 1-0 but they had the majority of the possession, so we'll definitely take the positives we saw and implement it going forward.”
“We’re getting to the point now where the lads are ready to play 90 minutes,” he said. “We only had one sub on Monday and I told the lads they would be playing the full game.
“We’ve told the second years that we'll speak to them differently this season because they're now in the last year of their scholarship. If we're having to say the same things we said last year then it obviously isn't sinking in. They've got to learn very quickly because this year will fly by for all of them.
“We all know about the recent examples of young lads getting professional contracts and that's what we've told the new first years, especially the six local lads. Some of them have struggled a little bit but they'll all adjust to being a full time footballer reasonably quickly. Hopefully that will mean we'll be able to bridge that gap from the under 16s to the youth team and on to the first team.”
“In terms of the off the pitch side of things the new lads have got used to it very quickly,” he added. “They were in on Friday and we congratulated them on the way they've conducted themselves. There are still things to work on but we're pleased with the progress so far.
“I’m enjoying working with Vince [Overson] again. He’s been around a long time and he knows how people, especially footballers, work. The lads are enjoying working with him which is why I wanted to get him in. I know what his strengths are and I believe he brings a lot to what we’re trying to do.”
And on Connor Thomson’s inclusion in the first team squad throughout pre-season, he said: “I haven’t seen him at all this past few weeks is great for him. He's been with the pros since we came back and it's a challenge for him to stay in that group now. The friendlies will give him a good chance to impress and get some game time.”
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