United’s first week of the off-season was taken up by a four-day ‘invites only’ trial period which saw 20 players, including Blues lads Jarrad Branthwaite, Josh Dixon, Arthur Gnahoua, Keighran Kerr and Liam McCarron, take part in daily double training sessions with a view to returning to join the squad for pre-season at the end of June.
“The trial week we had was something I looked at implementing after the January transfer window,” director of football David Holdsworth explained. “I was getting a lot of agents ringing me about trials, and I thought it would be a good policy for this club to try to make sure we didn’t end up diluting pre-season.
“I was getting agents recommending players for pre-season, so I set up the trialist week to have a look at them before it gets to that stage. Steven [Pressley] was happy with it, and although I put forward most of the players who attended, there were a few extras thrown in.”
“It was a successful week,” he continued. “It also gave some of our young lads and Arthur [Gnahoua] the chance to show that they had overcome certain injury issues and that they were ready for pre-season.
“We obviously worked closely with the physio in terms of Dixon, McCarron and Gnahoua to make sure we didn’t put too much stress on them, but they all came through the week very well. It’s likely Arthur will now come back for pre-season, but Steven will make the final decision on that.”
“The other benefit from it is that it gave us a chance to look at various coaches from our academy,” he added. “We were able to do some coaching education, and they all did really well. I was pleased with the way everyone went about it.
“We also had a look at a player from a Premier League club, who had been injured, and he’s exciting. There are two or three who will come back in pre-season.
“We had a young lad in from Penrith, Matthew Clarke, who did really well, and it was nice to have a local lad amongst the group. He stood out in the Cumberland Cup final as well, so we’ll keep an eye on him.”