We caught up with youth boss Darren Edmondson to talk about what has been an eventful first month of the new season.
We’ve had a good start,” he said. “We’ve had to chop and change the team quite a bit, with the injuries we’ve had to second years, but we’ve been playing well.
"We thought we’d done some good work in Hungary, albeit against different opposition, but we did some good training ground work which the first years have taken on board very quickly.
"The first years have played a lot of minutes which will only help us going forward, so it has been a very positive start."
“During pre-season it felt like the lads gelled quickly, and that’s continued even though we have lost a few second years to injury since then," he continued. "We thought that would hamper us a little bit, but the first years have taken the chance they’ve been given and kept things going well.
“We've had some good results, but it was a tough game at Wigan on Saturday and we got a bit of an eye-opener.
"We thought that might be the case with the way they’ve started and the pre-season they had - they were beating teams like Everton in pre-season and they’ve beaten teams in our league by five and six goals already, so it looks like they might be the team to watch."
Explaining more about the injuries, he told us: “The cruciate injury Josh Dixon has picked up is awful, because he'd started pre-season well and he'd caught the manager’s eye.
"Belchior [Papa] has had a recurring ankle injury and Jay Kelly has got a little growth which needs to be taken off his knee. It’s not ideal for them, but they’re strong characters. Overall, we’re very pleased with where we are game wise, but the injuries could cause an issue."
With the team being applauded for a positive style of play, he commented: “We’ve tried to get the lads playing good football, but in the right way.
"This level is all about development of players, but that comes from winning football matches and knowing how to win football matches. We’re not overplaying, but we want to win matches because that brings a positive working environment.
“With a team like Wigan, they're taking players from Premier League clubs in their area and we can’t compete with that. However, the lads really dug in.
"It was our mistake to make it 1-0 in that game, but we kept going until about 70 minutes when we started to tire. They then created chances and won by three, but it was very close for a lot of the game.
"We have to take the positives, they’ve been steam-rolling other clubs, and it was a good performance overall and one I hope the lads will learn from. We’ll watch the game back on Thursday and point a few things out to them before we get ready for the game at Wrexham on Friday."
“I don’t think the confidence has taken a knock from the last two results," he insisted. "I think that’s a good thing about first years, they recover very quickly. The Blackpool game in the cup was tough, and they were a physically strong side.
"There wasn’t a lot in the game really, and potentially, if we’d had our second years to match them physically, we maybe would have had too much for them. It is what it is, it came at a time where we had a few injuries, so we’ve got to move on. What we’ve got to do is make sure it doesn’t become three defeats on the spin.
"That's why the excitement about playing in the next game, on Friday at Wrexham, seems to come round very quickly. We’ve seen that in training this week because they’re all very buoyant again.
“We’ll have to make sure we’re physically prepared because Wrexham are very direct in what they do, and they don’t hide that fact. They aim to play the same way as the first team do in the Conference. It will be completely different from Wigan to Wrexham, but we’ll make sure we’re prepared for it.
“We want to win every game we play, whether that’s league or cup. Winning games helps, it keeps confidence in the group and it lets the first team staff know that things are going along nicely. I think it helps the whole club if everybody is winning games."
speaking about recent rumours which had linked youth coach Gavin Skelton with an approach from another club, he explained: “Gav has been brilliant since he came in. He knows the culture of the club, which is why I approached him in the first place.
"I knew he would know what it’s all about here, he’s been a great pro and a manager, so his experience every day is invaluable to this club. It’s great that he’s staying with us. I know he’s got other aspirations at some point, but he’s enjoying it at the club at the moment. That's good news for everybody."
And on the aims for the season, now that month one is done, he said: “I think the overall aim for the season is us being productive and getting players to contracts at the end of the season. If we can also beat our league position from last year in the process, then it’s progression.
"Ultimately, our job is to get players ready for the first team. We want to do as well as we can in the league, because if we can instil that winning mentality in them it helps when they do come to the first team environment.
"If at the end of the year we can get one or two pros signed from this group of eight second years then that will be great.”
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