Academy News

Davis | On under-18s’ Zurich visit, Wrexham test and pre-season camp

6 min read

Under-18 head coach Steve Davis believes his young Wolves players are in a good place as they continue to build for the start of their 2022/23 U18 Premier League North campaign.

The youth team began their pre-season preparations with a training camp at Grasshopper Club Zurich’s academy facilities last week, and having stepped up the intensity at Compton Park, including a friendly with Wrexham on Friday afternoon. They will shortly experience the facilities at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate in York which Davis feels will provide the squad with everything they need ahead of another competitive season.

On the training camp in Zurich

“It was a nice experience for us all to go over and use Grasshopper’s facilities, which we thought were really good. It was a nice base, and we also got the chance to go into Zurich and see the culture and spend a bit of time in the city, so it was a really good trip.

“It was very hot, so that obviously had an impact as the players had to deal with the heat and the different environment, but we were looked after the people at Grasshoppers really well, and we were really thankful for that.

“It was a very successful week really as we played a couple of good games as well, giving the first competitive match minutes for the boys.”

On the opening pre-season fixtures

“The plan for the first game was always to split the group into two teams and give them 45 minutes each. It diluted the quality a little bit, but I felt everyone needed 45 minutes as I didn’t want anyone to go over there and not feel they had any involvement.

“We got beat 3-0 and the performance wasn’t great, but it was important that we were mixing everybody up and I expected us to be very rusty as it was the first game back, but we managed to achieve our objective of giving everybody 45 minutes each.

“I picked a slightly different team for the second game against Grasshoppers, and they played their under-21s, so it was always going to be a bit tougher. I went a little bit stronger and gave the lads from the start 60 minutes. That worked fine and allowed us to give the ones who needed a bit more time the 60 minutes and the ones who were struggling just the 30.

“I was really pleased with the performance in this game. We were really good with our shape out of possession and we created some good chances. It finished 0-0, but we could be really proud of that performance as it was a lot better of the first one.”

On facing Wrexham this afternoon

“It was important that some of the lads going to Germany with the under-16s today got some minutes out in Zurich and were ready for that tournament. They’re going to be playing in a little tournament of four games over the next four days before re-joining us on Monday.

“That means all the schoolboys who were with us in Zurich will go over there and has left us with a pretty small group for our match against Wrexham this afternoon. We only have about 13 lads with us today as quite a few 18s have gone with the 21s to the US, so more or less all of them will get a full game in their legs.

“With the numbers, I might only agree with Wrexham to play 80 minutes as that will be a good step up from the 60 the played last week.”

On heading to York for another camp

“As we did last pre-season, we’re spending next week in York and we’ve got Barnsley on Wednesday and Sheffield Wednesday on the Friday, so two games quite close together. That will test the players as well, but thankfully the numbers will be a bit bigger and we’ll be able to distribute the game time out accordingly.

“We’re staying on site at the private school in York as we did last year and it was good preparation for the boys, so we wanted to do the same this year.

“It was a bit different last year though because the under-23s didn’t have big numbers, so they used a lot of our group for their pre-season games, so we had to cancel three games to accommodate that. But this season will be a bit different as the schoolboys have made the numbers up and we have been able to play all of our games.

“We’ll have the college to ourselves for the week and the facilities are great, the pitches are excellent and everything we need is on site. They have a cinema room, spinning classes, a massive gym, boxing rings, and they hire bikes out.

“There’s plenty to do on site during their free time, but they’ll also have education classes and site workshops, so their days are going to be quite full.”

On building towards the league campaign

“After we come back from York, we’ll only have two weeks before we start the season. We’ve stepped it up this week, with a really tough week for the players.

“It’s probably been the hardest few days since we came back three weeks ago, but we need to keep that going as they’ve got another two games before the league gets underway, against Notts County and Wigan.

“These next few weeks are just about making sure the players have got a foundation that they can build on when the league starts. Making sure they can all get through it, that none of them are injured and they’re all fit and ready for that first game.

“That’s the priority, but we also want to try and get some good performances in there, get them playing how we want them to play, especially the new players who have just come into the club and don’t know how we play yet or what we’re looking to get from them, so it’s about spending time with them as well and getting clear messages across.”

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