09:00AM, Friday 14 July 2017
MAIDENHEAD United boss Alan Devonshire admitted this week that he’s no lover of pre-season football, but he knows how vitally important the next few weeks will be to get his squad in peak fitness for the National League test that lies in wait.
Devonshire knows that his Magpies’ squad must become fitter than they’ve ever been before to stand any chance of thriving in a league where the players will be ‘fitter, stronger and better’.
The players have been slowly building up their fitness after last week’s return from the summer break but will step up their preparations with a series of friendly matches, starting at Chertsey Town this evening (Thursday).
The manager is pleased that the new players are integrating well and, the odd tweaked muscle here and there aside, the squad look in good nick going into the pre-season programme.
The results, and indeed performances, are inconsequential to Devonshire, who’s focused only on the squad being fit for their first league match at Maidstone United on August 5.
He’s also attaching little to no importance on the Magpies’ Berks & Bucks Senior Cup final against Hungerford Town at Arbour Park on July 25 and is reluctant to play his strongest side on the artificial surface for fear of players collecting niggling injuries.
After tonight the Magpies will play a double-header at Windsor (noon) and Staines Town (3pm) splitting the first team squad between Stag Meadow and Wheatsheaf Park.
“I’m no lover of pre-season because I look forward to when the real games start,” said Devonshire.
“For me it is about getting the players fit and sharp for the season.”
Devonshire added that new boys Harold Odametey, Chinedu McKenzie, Jake Goodman and Jake Hyde were settling in well and confirmed that there was space in the squad, and in the budget, for more signings.
“I’ve not made a decision on the triallists yet,” he said. “I may do after the weekend or the next few matches.
“We’ll still be looking at players until the squad is settled.
“Like I’ve always said one or two might move on and one or two might come in.
“There’s still time for us to make a decision on that.
“But so far it’s been good. The new boys have integrated well with the rest of the squad.
“We’ll work them hard but we won’t be killing them. We’ve just got to make sure that they’re sharp and fit for the first game at Maidstone.
“I’m not focused on that game (Berks & Bucks Senior Cup final),” he added. “I’ll look and see who needs minutes at the time of the final but my focus is on August 5.”
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