Scunthorpe manager Russ Wilcox says he can’t wait for the season to get under way at the weekend.Although he admits he has a selection headache.
The Iron kick off the Sky Bet League One campaign at the County Ground, against Swindon Town, and after an impressive 3-1 win over a young Leicester side on Saturday, he admits he is still unsure of what team he will be putting out on Saturday afternoon.
“The squad came out of the Leicester game unscathed,” the manager told The Iron Player, with a hint of relief.
“Everyone’s chomping at the bit now and they’re giving me problems with naming my starting XI, I must admit.
“It’s a good issue to have: we now have a good, strong squad and the different formations on Saturday showed me we’re flexible in either system so it’s given me a lot to think about.”
David Mirfin is the only confirmed casualty, after the defender required surgery on ligaments in his knee and Wilcox says Saturday’s performance has given him even more to think about, with a number of players staking their claim for a place in the starting line-up.
“The Leicester game was competitive,” he added. “There were lots of tackles going in, it was played at a good tempo and there was a good intensity about the game. It proved to be a really good workout for us.
“The performance is hard to replicate though- at the start of a new season, in front of bigger crowds with nerves. We are all just looking forward to getting started now.”
The transition from the difference of football played in the fourth tier compared with Sky Bet League One is great and the manager hopes to see his side keeping hold of possession more this season, while also discussing the opposition, who are coached by Mark Cooper.
“You can see the lads are fit, strong and playing some good stuff at the moment - it’s important we try to play a bit more football in League One,” he said.
“Ball retention is key, we can’t keep giving it back because we are facing better players.
“We’ve shown what a good side we can be too and Swindon will have watched us on Saturday, they won’t know which system we are going to go with, but there’ll be parts of our game to make them worry as well.
“(Chief scout) Lee Turnbull has seen them a couple of times and I’ve watched a couple of their matches back on DVDs. I saw their game with Leeds United - they’re a good outfit, they finished in the top ten last season and will be looking to push on.
“They have played 3-5-2 for most of pre-season and there will be strengths and weaknesses to that - hopefully some we can exploit.
“We have to respect their system and it will be like last year: if we do what we can do and perform to our maximum, we’ll give every team in this division a good game.”
The manager used the Leicester match to experiment with formations, opting with 4-4-2 in the first half before switching to 4-3-3 in the second-half, where United scored three excellent goals.
He said: “We showed we’re flexible and I’ve got options and different systems to choose from and it’s exciting, I can’t wait to get going.”
He admitted Saturday can’t come quick enough, whilst explaining his squad’s traveling plans for the fixture.
He stated: “I don’t like pre-season. As a manager, you’re just waiting for things to happen that you don’t want to happen and you’re getting people through games.
“Nobody’s really going full pelt, although it felt like that at times against Leicester.
“We are going to go down to Swindon on Friday morning. There’s been problems on the motorway going in and out of Scunthorpe, which the lads found this week, so we are going to travel down to Swindon and train down there.
“We did it a lot last season and it worked so hopefully it can be a good omen for us again this time!”
See much more from Russ Wilcox, and others, on The Iron Player.