Shaun Derry sets out chief pre-season aim for Cambridge United
The U's begin run of friendlies at St Neots on Saturday
Fitness will be the main focus for Cambridge United this pre-season, according to head coach Shaun Derry.
The U’s have 10 friendly matches, beginning at St Neots this Saturday (July 8), ahead of the new Sky Bet League Two campaign, which kicks off at Exeter on August 5.
And while it will be a case of bedding the five new players – David Amoo, Dimitar Mitov, Jabo Ibehre, Emmanuel Osadebe and Gary Deegan – into the club, the aim from the early games at least will be to get minutes under the belt.
“We’ve got opponents – with the greatest respect to St Neots – we’d hope we’d get the win against, so you look at how many minutes the players play and it’s all about fitness for the first three or four games,” said Derry.
“There will be split times, 45 minutes each player will be playing, and then gradually as it goes closer to the start of the season that’s when you think about your starting XI a little bit more.
“Within the training schedule, not just in terms of the game programme but your training minutes, we’re always working tactically on the team.”
There can sometimes be a tendency for fans to put a lot of onus on results during pre-season, but Derry has seen both sides of the coin where that is concerned.
“I’ve had pre-seasons playing wise where we’ve won all the games comprehensively and had a really poor season,” said Derry.
“And if I remember rightly back to the season we got promoted with QPR, I can remember losing to Plymouth on the penultimate pre-season game and going into the season wondering what kind of season we were going to have, and wiping the floor with the Championship.
“I definitely won’t look too much into the results of pre-season.”
After the match at St Neots, the U’s travel to St Albans (July 11) and Royston Town (July 12), with a home game against Norwich City on Saturday, July 15 (2pm).
They go to Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday, July 18 and host Tottenham Hotspur under-23s for Josh Coulson’s testimonial on Friday, July 21 (7.45pm).
Away matches at Dartford (July 22), Woking (July 25) and Hemel Hempstead (July 26) lead into the final warm-up fixture, at home to Southend United on July 29 (3pm).