United wrap up their pre-season programme on Friday night with a home game against Halifax Town and with the new season kick-off just eight days away.
Assistant head coach Gav Skelton confirmed this week that it’s an important period ahead as plans for that Colchester game are fine tuned.
“We’re getting closer and closer to the real competitive fixtures now,” he told us. “That’s why when we go up against Halifax we want to see the lads approach it like it’s a league game.
“Mentally pre-season is hard sometimes, because you can do stuff you don’t normally do in a league game, but we want it to be as close to a realistic game as we can. Halifax will be a good test for that.
“It’s a game that will allow us to do a bit of everything. Some need minutes, and it’s a bit of fine turning for others. There will be certain reasons why certain people are in different areas, because we are still looking at different things.
“Some lads haven’t had as many minutes but you’re obviously concentrating on the first league game. We’ve got a team in our minds and there’ll be a reason for it, and it will be productive to us for when the season starts.”
Looking ahead to the season kick-off, he said: “We’re in a good place. The pleasing thing is, it wasn’t absolutely brilliant on Saturday or Tuesday, because you can have that mid pre-season where you’re all excited and right at it at the start, but it’s hard to maintain that.
“Where we are now, we can’t wait for that league game to start. I’m sure the lads will be on it to step up even more. There are genuinely places up for grabs.
“People in these games give different options in different ways. Some perform really well, some perform not to the level you’d want. There are places to be finalised and Friday is another game where players can show where they’re at.
“What’s been good is we’ve mixed it up at times. We’ve been flexible with the shape, and where people play. We’ve done it a lot within games, and we’ve been doing that purposefully, so people are ready to adapt to do it.
“Lewis Bell is a good example. We played him wide of a three on Saturday, and he came on as a wing-back on Tuesday. It helps so that if it happens in the season, it’s natural for them, not thrown upon them when we change things in games, or for games.
“Being able to adapt is massive. You’re always learning and at times we’ll need that. If you can flip things, I think the successful teams in our league did that last season, they could just change it at half-time and impact the game.
“We’re conscious of that and confident we can do it.”