So far, Blues played 3 matches in the space of 5 days to kickstart pre-season. Whilst the 4-1 defeat to MK Dons behind closed doors has put a minor dampener on our preparations, I still think we can be fairly pleased with our start. The first part of pre-season was always going to be about getting fitness levels up, and 3 games in the space of 5 days was a tough task to maintain levels of performances.
After the Alfreton game, I was gutted I couldn’t go to Ireland for Shamrock, which we won 4-0. By all accounts a good all round performance, and a goal for each of the strikers bar Asante, and also Callum Reilly. I’ve seen the highlights, and our passing game was very encouraging.
We built up play from the back, the presence of the wingbacks created that extra space for our midfield players, and the finishes from Novak, Zigic and Green were all well-placed. And, whilst there was an element of fortune to Reilly’s goal, there was also an element of inevitability about it. The passing in the build-up to that goal looked very confident and the team looked as though they felt the goal would have always gone in, as Reilly didn’t even celebrate.
A very strong performance from so early in pre-season, and I’m happy to forget about the MK Dons match because of it. That defeat came as our 3rd game in 5 days, which was going to be tough on the legs, after the performance against Shamrock. The positive was Kobe Arthur’s goal, which was incredibly well-placed. His performance against Alfreton was very exciting, so I think he’ll be a big part of our team next season.
In other news, Akwasi Asante has moved back to Shewsbury on a month’s youth loan deal. With forwards Zigic, Novak and Green in the squad, I don’t mind seeing Asante dropping down a division to gain more first team football. Hopefully he can start to score goals for Shrewsbury to build his confidence. He put in a hardworking performance against Alfreton a week ago, but would probably be secondary choice to the other strikers in our squad.
There’s also been rumours of us bringing Shane Ferguson back on loan. If Clark could pull this off, it would be something of a masterstroke. Ferguson made a great impact on the team last season, because we went on a great run of form just as the Newcastle man came into the side. But he would come in even more useful this time around, particularly with his versatility. If Clark is looking to keep this wingback system in place, Ferguson’s ability to play left midfield and left back would fit our system perfectly, should Clark decide not to take on trialist Liam Davis.
Having hopefully got the squad up to full fitness, this is the time when players will look to fight for their places. We have four more games to go until the season opener, and spaces in the team appear very much up for grabs. The hard work now starts in earnest.
By Gabriel Sutton