O'Neill: We'll Have to Put On Additional Games to Keep Everybody Match Fit
Tuesday, 9th Feb 2021 12:16
Town will organise additional friendlies to try to keep more of their now very sizeable squad match fit during the second half of the season with a number of players training in a group between the first team and the U23s.
Having made four further loan signings in January and with a number of long-term injured players having returned to fitness after injury, the Blues’ first-team squad has become increasingly big and as a result there is now a training group between the senior players and U23s.
“One thing we’ve looked at with a large squad like is that we'll have to look to put some additional games on to keep the players match fit and make sure that they’re ready to go should they be needed and called into the squad over the next three to four months,” general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill told TWTD.
“We’ve got a small squad of players that we’re trying to fit in and out and there will be some players as the games come thick and fast that won’t be doing so much training, they’ll just be preparing for games.
“We’ve got a big squad, we’ve got to find a way of managing that training squad and managing the game fitness, so we’ve got that squad and we’ve still got the U23s and the U18s outside it.
“It’s been thought through, it’s been planned and we’re trying work through and make sure all those players get their individual needs as well as their team needs for the rest of the season.”
O’Neill says it’s a situation which has previously been the case: “There’s no difference really from before lockdown and Covid, that was how we were operating, we’d always have an advanced group or an U23s group that are near the first team and then we’d still have an U23s group as well and still have an U18s group.
“At the moment there are no U15s to U9s programme, so the U16s are pushed up a little bit as well.
“There’s not like a reserve team squad or an advanced U23s if you want to look at it that way, but there are a small group of players that would train alongside, some of them drop out of the first team and make a bigger squad and some of them just wait there just in case they’re needed for whatever reason.
“We’ve got a lot of coaches that can supplement that group as well, from [academy head of coaching and player development] Bryan [Klug] to Gerard [Nash] to [U23s manager] Kieron [Dyer] to [U18s manager] Adem [Atay] to [U23s coach] Terry Butcher, so they work with that support group right from the U18s through to that fringe players squad.”
Last Wednesday’s postponed friendly against Brentford B at Playford Road had been scheduled for the players in that fringe squad.
“There’ll be a group of players from the first team perspective that may have been on the bench for a while and haven’t played,” O’Neill added.
“They will be needed at some point and we need to make sure they’re up to speed and game time is important for them. That’s the idea and the thought process behind it.
“And then there are some young players that have had their debuts that maybe aren’t quite starting or travelling every week but they still get a chance to showcase what they can do in front of the manager and the first-team staff.”
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