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Rob Williams discusses Academy pre-season schedule

26 June 2023


Rob Williams discusses Academy pre-season schedule

26 June 2023

Walsall Under 18s will return to pre-season on Thursday 29th June as preparations for the 2023/24 season get underway.

The first team also returned earlier this week and all the players will be working hard to build up their fitness and get ready for the new campaign.

Academy Manager Rob Williams is looking forward to getting back to work and has outlined what the early weeks of pre-season will look like for the Academy players.  

“The boys return on Thursday 29th June,” he said.

“That will be a testing day to check where they are at based on where they were at the end of last season and we’ll get an idea of how much of their post-season programme they’ve done or not done and what condition they’re in.

“The afternoon of that day will be the admin and planning ahead for the season. They’ll be back training properly from the Friday morning.

“The big one for us this season is that we’ll train alongside the first team. That’s been one of the challenges in the 15 months since I’ve been back is getting that embedded into day-to-day, week-to-week practice but having spoken to Mat Sadler over the course of the last few weeks, we’ll train at exactly the same time as the first team and above all, that enables that pathway between Under 18s and the first team to be more fluid, more efficient and provide a better opportunity for our players so that’s the biggest change.”

The Under 18s will begin playing pre-season friendlies on Saturday 8th July when they take on Bristol Rovers.

They will face a variety of Under 18s, Under 21s and men’s teams during pre-season and Williams feels the players will benefit from the different kind of challenges they will provide.

“We try to get a varied programme for them in terms of games,” Williams explained.

“We’re going to play against Under 21s and Under 19s team from Redditch and Kidderminster and we’ll also play some lower-level non-league teams but their first teams so they’ll play men. Hopefully it gives them a varied experience across that pre-season that will prepare them for when the season starts in August.

“I felt it worked really well last year, it gives them those varied experiences and off the back of the end of last season where we had a number of games against men’s teams in the Walsall Senior Cup, the value of those games is massive. Playing non-league teams, if you can cope against men’s teams, the physical aspect of the Under 18s league should be fairly straightforward.”

The Under 18s pre-season schedule can be found below:

Saturday 8th July – Bristol Rovers U18s – A
Tuesday 11th July – Coventry City U18s – A
Saturday 15th July – West Bromwich Albion U18s – A
Tuesday 18th July – Walsall Wood – A
Saturday 22nd July – Kidderminster Harriers U19s – H
Saturday 29th July – Redditch United U21s – A
Tuesday 1st August – Shifnal Town - A

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