Gary McSheffrey is challenging his team-mates to take their form from last season, along with a positive pre-season, into the new campaign.The Iron saw the record unbeaten run help them to promotion in 2013/14 and the wideman believes the first couple of months will be season-defining.
“League One is a difficult league, but I think we’ll be alright and hold our own,” he told The Iron Player.
“We just have to get a good start as nobody wants to get left behind. As long as we do that, we can build on it and see where we are after ten or so games when the league takes shape. If we’re up there after that, there’s no reason to believe we can’t do very well.”
After a tough few weeks back in training after a summer of R&R, McSheffrey says he is feeling the benefits of a full pre-season, after being made to train on his own at Coventry last summer:
He added: “I said at the end of last season; wherever I may be, I’d be a stronger player with a full pre-season under my belt. That’s been good so far and a full pre-season is still the aim and hopefully I’ll go into the new season much stronger and fitter.
“Training’s been going well, we had a nice weekend away at Chapneys Springs and we worked hard.”
McSheffrey missed the final month of the season due to injury and he made a brief appearance on the final day against York. He added: “I had a little tear in the hamstring, I played five or ten minutes of our last game and that was nice and now it had a rest over the summer. It feels fine now.”
The 31-year-old signed a new one-year deal with the club in the summer to extend his stay, after arriving at Glanford Park in January.
Most players dread pre-season, but reap the rewards and McSheffrey is no different. The ballwork can be just as important as the fitness aspect:
“We’ve been doing a lot of football training and, obviously, fitness is a given,” he said, speaking ahead of the Iron’s home pre-season friendly with Huddersfield Town.
“You have to be fit and ready in good time but technical work is important as there’s no point being able to put a shift in and then recieving the ball and not being able to do anything with it so a combination is important.
“We have two-and-a-half weeks and we’re all desperate to be in the team and we want to be as fit as we can be and sharp in possession to make an impact on the game. I want to create chances, make goals and chip in with a few myself so it’s an important couple of weeks for us.
“I set targets at the start of each season. This year it’s to play as many games as I can and have a solid season and to make an impact in the squad and the club.”
McSheffrey has over 400 professional appearances to his name and he undoubtedly brings experience. Some of those games came in English football’s third tier and he is not the only player at the club who has a wealth of experience behind them.
He stated: “I’ve only ever had one season in League One but it’s a difficult league. I’ve mostly played in the Championship throughout my career and in League One anyone can beat anyone and you have to be good technically and take your chances when you get them as they don’t come around as often.
“We have got some experienced pros in the squad and hopefully the starting XI. We have five or six who have a lot of games under their belts in their career and I’m confident we can use that to our advantage.
“We can definitely hold our own in this league and I’m quite confident we can do well.”
Of those many career appearances, 281 came for boyhood club Coventry, who McSheffrey is unsurprisingly looking forward to coming up against.
He said: “I’d love to be able to go back to Coventry with Scunthorpe this season. They played at Northampton last year and I hope they can get it sorted to return to the Ricoh.
“It’d be nice to play there, I know a few of the players and my family and friends will be at the game. It’ll be strange but, as a footballer, you have to be professional about it. I’ll prepare and play the game as usual and hopefully we can get a result.”
See much more from Gary McSheffrey, and others, on The Iron Player.