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Hill reflects on first week of pre-season

2 July 2022

First team manager Keith Hill spoke following the Iron's behind-closed-doors pre-season friendly at Middlesbrough U23s, which ended 3-2 to the hosts but capped what he sees as a very good first nine days back for pre-season training.

He told Iron Player: "It was another training exercise, but I was really pleased with the effort, hard work and energy under difficult circumstances. The lads have really worked hard this week, we've been doing two-and-a-half hour sessions, all ball-related, and worked a really intense week. They've played under a little bit of psychological and physical stress today because of the week they've had. It's the first week and it's been 45 minutes for most, and around 70 for some others.

"We were a little bit sloppy in possession at times and we didn't seem to have the type of energy (we need), but I know the energy will come. It's about basics, good habits and continually going through the processes of repeat, repeat, repeat in what we're doing in and out of possession. From a game perspective it was just another training ground exercise against different opposition than what we're used to on a daily basis.

"It was a superb exercise and emphasised to the players what they need to do and improve on without any panic or stress.

"We're really pleased with how the players have dealt with it in the last week-and-a-half. They've shown great adaptability, with respect to bringing energy, enthusiasm and wanting to learn. We're seeing improvement in the physical abilities of the players and everything we're doing is ball-related, with the players we've got, to the way we want to play for the season coming up which starts five weeks today. I'm really pleased with the first week.

"We've picked up one injury so far, which is Ethan Young. It's a slight concern because he's missing out on a lot of training time that he won't get back. He has a flexor muscle injury where going back into ball training there's just been a little bit of aggravation, but we're hoping he'll be back on the training pitch some time next week."

Hill added: "As a manager, I like working pre-season and those six weeks to put down an imprint of the identity, and the players are doing everything they possibly can to fulfil what we're doing on the training pitch and taking it into a matchday.

"The lads have been exceptional in their efforts, endeavours and desires, and now it's just making sure we brush up, scratch up and improve on the basics."

Talking about trialists Marcus Dewhurst, Louie Chorlton, Michael Ledger, Kgosi Ntlhe, Joe Bunney and Elliott Whitehouse, he continued: "It's difficult to assess because I want to see the players, not only at their best but at their worst. The type of training we've been doing this week has been really intense and then we played today. I know the lads are feeling it but they've all adapted well. I need to see the worst of the players physically and mentally. You sometimes see the best of trialists when you have them in for two or three days, but we're going to assess them for two or three weeks, so I get to see every facet of the person themselves and weigh up whether they fit into the group.

"This coming week will be training and playing. We have two more behind-closed-doors friendlies, but we want the training to mirror the way we want to play in a game. We have to be more intense, but that will start coming in the way we play once we start dropping the training load down. At the minute, the training load is really high, they're working under extreme measures with fatigue as well. We're obviously conscious of the game time we're giving the players in relation to the training so we don't have fatigue injuries, but the players have responded really well and I'm pleased with them."

He concluded with a brief transfer update, insisting that he'll remain patient and will keep striving for what he considers the best value. He said: "What we do need is more players and the opportunity to recruit to make the squad better, so we have that real competition for places and that stimulates success."

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