Cambridge United begin their pre-season schedule at St Neots Town tomorrow (K.O. 3:00pm), and U’s boss Shaun Derry is hopeful his players will make the most of the opening encounter.
For the second season running United begin their preparations for Sky Bet League Two at Rowley Park and Derry feels it’s the perfect venue and opponent to kick off their schedule of fixtures in the lead up to the upcoming campaign.
He said: “I enjoyed the fixture with St Neots last pre-season, especially the facility and their pitch.
“With it being so local, we’ll get plenty of Cambridge United fans turn up to get a first glimpse at the new squad. The game works well for both parties, it’s a great opening match and provides a good platform for the nine pre-season fixtures that we have.
“In terms of us, we’ll be looking at it as an additional training session but in a match environment. You don’t tend to look at the first match from a tactical perspective, it’s really about players turning up and making the most out of the afternoon physically.
“We already know the amount of minutes each player will feature through the first four or five games.”
He added: “In regards to this weekend, Medy (Elito) has missed a few days through illness so we’ll be slightly cautious with him. Likewise Josh Coulson having had such a long period out with his injury, we might just leave it to the last minute to decide whether he is ready for match action, we might bring him in for next week’s games.
“And of course Ade (Azeez) has just arrived and although he’s had two weeks training already in Scotland, we’re still to measure his fitness levels, so if we feel he needs another couple of days then we’ll give them to him.”
Meanwhile, the United Head Coach explained the entire pre-season programme has been a clear process, with “no surprises” in order to convey a consistent message to the players
Derry continued: “Preparations have been enjoyable in the opening two weeks, made smoother by the fact we have brought five of the new players in during the very early stages of the close season.
“All the boys know who their team mates will be for the coming season as opposed to waiting for players to come through the door in the middle of the pre-season period.
“There is a level of real consistency within the group which is slightly different to last year and is an important factor.
“From day one we have let all the players know the full schedule for pre-season, right through from the type of training sessions, to the games and even the travel arrangements. That gives us the best chance to get as organised as possible and deliver the consistent messages in the lead up to the new season.”
United supporters are encouraged to get behind the U’s for the first time at St Neots tomorrow afternoon, with tickets available on the gate.