Mark Bonner faced the media ahead of Saturday’s eagerly awaited League One curtain-raiser against Oxford United...
After six weeks of pre-season, the United boss says his squad are more than ready. "We have been prepared [for the game] for about a week, the last week has dragged waiting for the game to arrive – from our side we are comfortable and fit ahead of Saturday and we are really looking forward to it.” Bonner explained.
"Having fans in the stadium gives a buzz and bounce, as does the opening day of the season every season anyway. We are hoping for that atmosphere around the stadium and that players respond to it and enjoy it.
“It's what it is all about, being back to normal is great and I am sure fans are excited about it. We are really looking forward to having fans back to get Cambridge over the line in the stands again – we want a positive energy that the team can thrive off.”
Bonner isn’t worried about the prospect of going toe-to-toe with League One’s bigger Club's this season, giving his squad the tag of 'confident underdogs'.
"There are massive clubs in League One, with some clubs having much bigger resources, however we showed last year that despite having less resources, we can still compete & we embrace the challenge.
"We know we are the underdogs going into the season. We need to keep moving forwards, maintaining the momentum from last season, but we know that it is going to be a challenge going up a division. We want to try and continue our development as a club.”
On the style of play of Oxford United, Bonner explained, “Better quality of football is played [in League One], more possession and control, which brings lots of new challenges, compared to last season - the players need to embrace the challenge.
“We need to be good, and we need to find the right levels, whether that be through our defence or counter attacking, we need to block passing lanes as we know they’re a team that likes to dominate possession. We need to get back to the intensity that competitive games bring."
Finally, on injuries ahead of Saturday, there was positive news from Bonner. "Lloyd [Jones] is back for the weekend, Jack [Lankester] is back on the pitch and will hopefully link up with the team next week. He hs has missed the entirety of pre-season so we can’t put a timescale on his return – same with Davies, they are at very similar stages.”