Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow night’s trip to Shepshed Dynamo...
Pre-season’s usually not as gruelling as it has been for supporters this year, whilst the players are prepared for hill sprints, bleep tests and general fitness torture, us supporters are waiting potentially for a weekend friendly outing at a nearby club.
This pre-season it’s different as Paul Cox and his team have prepared a gruelling schedule of games designed to test every nook and cranny of his players, both mentally and physically – tomorrow’s game and the approach will be no different despite the fact the side will be made up of youth players and trialists.
I know that for many the prospect of travelling to United Counties League Premier Division side Shepshed to watch a youth team get a run out will not be a very welcomed one, especially considering the Gainsborough game the following night. Personally I’m looking forward to the Shepshed game as we’ll get a look at the younger lads and get an idea into how they will develop under the guidance of Andy Todd, who will presumably take charge of the reserves.
Unfortunately two of the four youth team graduates, Adam Somes and Joel Holland, are injured so won’t be able to play but youth team player of the season Scott Rogers and last season’s skipper Jobe Shaw will get a run out and an opportunity to impress in competitive action alongside the other fringe players, third year youth teamers and trialists.
I spent last season following the fortunes of the newly reformed academy side as they debued in the Football Conference Youth Alliance North division. Despite leading the table for the majority of the season, a late slip up saw an eventual fourth placed finish, six points shy of the title. However despite the late slip there were encouraging signs throughout in terms of player development and tomorrow’s match at Shepshed will be the perfect blend of comfort of the youth league pitches and competitiveness at a more senior level.
The test will be a tough one as the boys face a side who suffered relegation the previous season, Shepshed conceded 11 goals in their final two games to finish Rock Bottom of the division. It looks very likely that Paul Cox will be fielding a youth/trialist side but with John Thompson and Jake Speight both on the way back for injury, we may or may not see a blend of experience in there too.
Whoever’s put out and whatever players are on trial tomorrow I think it’ll be a game where Paul Cox assess the structure of his squad rather than the first team squad, that will come on Friday at Gainsborough, however that’s taking nothing away from those in action tomorrow – everyone’s repressing Mansfield Town, fighting for their place – that can only be a god thing right? After all Paul Cox has side that breeding home grown young players is high on his priory list, this season will see it happen more and tomorrow will pretty much be the start of that – Bring it on!
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