Manager Mills putting players through tough pre-season regime
Rugby Town make a first appearance on their main Butlin Road pitch tomorrow (Saturday) when Conference North side Solihull Moors line-up against the Valley.
The Solihull game ends a run of 11 days without a warm-up outing for the rebuilt Town line-up, but new manager Gary Mills explained the strategy behind the schedule.
He said: “We decided to arrange the practice games in close batches. We had three near the start of pre-season and then had a period to regroup and work on a few things in training before ending with five more matches in quick succession now.
“The players have worked extremely hard for us in training and the practice games to-date and I think they are starting to understand what we are asking them to do and what is expected of them.
“The lads that are still here from previous years say it is the toughest pre-season they have ever had.
“We know that with such a large influx of players, it is going to take time for them to fully gel together and there is still a long way to go, but the early signs are encouraging and we’re really looking forward to kicking things off for real on August 15.”
Mills’ pre-season preparations have been hampered by the departure of the bulk of last season’s playing squad and others who seemingly confirmed their commitment to the club before then changing their mind.
He continued: “The player recruitment side of things certainly has been a challenge over the last couple of months. The phone is always ringing, and not always with good news, but we will keep ploughing away to ensure we can put together a squad that will be competitive in what we know is a tough league.
“We managed to get another couple on board last week and we are still looking to confirm a few others in the next week or so.”
The two new signings - Tom Ryan and Tom Glasscoe - are both ex-Rugby Town JFC players, with the 22-year-old centre-half Ryan joining up with his hometown senior club for the first time from Southern League Banbury. Prior to that, the former Swindon Town academy prospect had playing spells in both Sweden and the USA.
The versatile right-sided Glasscoe – also aged 22 – played under new Town assistant-manager Craig Adams at Bedford in Valley’s division last season, having previously graduated from the Rugby-based Strachan Football Foundation.
Mills himself has made a return to playing action after more than a season out, featuring in two of Town’s warm-up games so far - registering a headed goal in the recent 8-2 victory over Continental Star.
The new boss confirmed that he is looking to feature at some point in the league this season by quipping: “I am going to make myself available for selection, and if good enough hope to get some pitch time!”
# After Saturday’s friendly (3pm kick-off) with Solihull, Town then travel to newly-promoted Southern League Premier Division Stratford next Tuesday (28th), before three more home games against King’s Lynn (August 1), a Northampton Town XI (August 5) and Barwell (August 8).