“The lads got the minutes into their legs and we’re ready to go again on Saturday…”
Despite defeat, Gary Waddock stressed the importance and the benefits of Tuesday evening’s Papa John’s Trophy workout against Arsenal U21’s.
“Obviously we wanted to give a better account of ourselves. We wanted to win the fixture, the players are disappointed, but you’ve got to give credit to Arsenal as well, who had some good players on show.
“You want to progress, but on the other hand we’ve got to get this squad fit, ready and available for the campaign. It’s a fine line and you’ve got to balance both.”
As United have found over the years against these youthful outfits, such as Tottenham Hotspur last season, the energy and desire from the get go is extremely noticeable. That was no different against the Gunners, who brought a possession game to the Abbey which was strenuous to deal with.
“They had pace and they were athletic as well. They used the ball well, so well done to them on the result tonight.”
The Assistant Head Coach went on to state the positives from the 0-2 loss. In particular, the utilisation of the fringe players – 10 fully-rested players were given the opportunity to impress, with the hope then to cement themselves in Mark Bonner’s preferred XI.
“We wanted to give those lads some game time and we did that. We rested some players for tonight as well, because it’s a heavy schedule that we’ve just been in.
“It’s difficult (to break through) when we’re doing so well in the league campaign, but that’s the main objective. We’ve started ok, we need to keep that going, but they’ll be ready to go again when called upon.”
Included in that list was the returning Fejiri Okenabirhie, who accumulated 60 minutes on his first start in amber and becomes another handy option in the attacking ranks.
“He needed that. He’s trained well, but training to game time is different. To get an hour into him is good, so he’s better prepared now going forward.”
Last but not least, with the transfer window coming to a close within the coming days, Waddock gave the press a brief update on how the U’s stand, concluding with the statement, “I think Bonz will turn his phone off, we’ll draw the curtains and lock the front door hopefully.”