Joe Dunne wants to use Cambridge United’s Checkatrade Trophy opponents Southend United as a benchmark

PUBLISHED: 13:58 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 06 September 2018

Paul Lewis made his first Cambridge United appearance of the season against Southend United.

Paul Lewis made his first Cambridge United appearance of the season against Southend United.

Iliffe Media Ltd

Head coach seeks to take positives

Joe Dunne was able to take multiple benefits from Cambridge United’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Southend United in midweek.

In the much-maligned competition, the head coach used the game at Roots Hall as an opportunity to rotate his squad, including giving valuable minutes to Greg Taylor and Paul Lewis on their returns from injury.

So, despite the 3-1 loss, Dunne could see the wider advantage to the U’s.

“I think we have used 21 players [this season],” said Dunne. “I think all my squad cannot complain about having a game, other than probably Paul [Lewis], who had his first game the other night.

“Obviously, Greg [Taylor] started the first game of the season. Everybody else has played; they played against Newport and we’ve had cup competitions and they’ve played in the league.

“The key benefit of the other night was Greg and Paul back playing. It also gave us the chance to play Harry [Darling] and Leon [Davies]. It gave us the opportunity to mix up one or partnerships, that’s the benefit of the other night.”

Dunne was understandably disappointed to lose the game, but he felt it gave the U’s an eye-opener to what is expected in League One, and the gulf between the two divisions.

“Losing the game is not great,” he said. “I think I’ve said the difference between a team on seven points in League One who are in and around mid-table at the moment against a team on seven points in League Two in and around that points tally, it’s a huge gap.

“They were in the same league as us only about four seasons ago and that’s how quickly football moves on, and that’s the difference and the catch up we have.

“Anyone who has ambitions of playing in League One, a league I’ve worked in a long time, if that’s the benchmark of what Southend put out the other evening, we’ve got to work hard and players as individuals have to work hard.

“That’s the benefit, looking and seeing also what the opposition had and what they did, and how hard you have to work if you want to go and play at that level – that’s the difference.

“Also us as a staff and how hard we have to keep on working. And as a club how hard we have to work to get to where Southend are because it was a strong performance from a team who made seven or eight changes themselves – and that’s how far we are away.

“We have to go that extra yard to try to improve as a club, as a team and as individuals, and that’s my takeaway that I have to use to motivate my players to make sure that you give your soul to football.

“It requires a commitment and a needing and a wanting to improve and to train every day as hard as you can to live and breath football because it will be gone very quickly and you would kick yourself if you didn’t get the chance to test yourself to be the best you can be.

“It’s what makes me excited about football because it makes me want to improve teams.”

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