Manager Darrell Clarke today spoke about the two games his side have played to date, of games to come and of possible new signings.
“The two friendly games we have played to date have worked out quite well, though as with any pre-season fixtures there are both positives and negatives.
“The main thing is to try to get through the pre-season programme with players getting as much game time as possible and trying to get the majority of the squad as fit as possible for the opening day of the season on 8th August.
“I’ve named my squads in advance for the first couple of games as I think it’s only fair to supporters to do that and preferable to taking all of the squad to each game and making wholesale changes at half time or during the second half.
“Doing things this way has enabled me to have a look at the younger players in the squad and it has worked out quite well, though we did pick up a few slight knocks in the opening two games, but nothing major.
Nevertheless players won’t be risked if they pick up even a minor knock.”
As the new season approaches, players will be looking to impress the manager and hope to be in the starting lineup for the game against Northampton on 8th August.
“At this stage of our preparations, I have an open mind as to who might make the starting lineup for our opening game against Northampton Town. Last season is done and dusted and everyone begins the new campaign with an opportunity of being in the side for the opening game.
“It was great to achieve what we did last season, and getting back into the Football League at the first attempt is something we should be very proud of but it all starts again now and players have to be working hard to make an impression.
“We may not have a huge squad, but it is very competitive and we have some good players, all of whom will be hoping to be in the starting XI come August.
“However my players know how I work and the new lads who have come in will soon come to realise my way of working very quickly.”
The manager has used a number of young players in the two games to date, including second year pros Jamie Lucas, Danny Greenslade and Dominic Thomas along with first year pros Ryan Broom, Jay Malpas,
Tyler Lyttle and Kieran Preston, as well as second year scholar Alfie Kilgour.
“All of those youngsters, especially the second year lads, need to be pushing their way into first team recognition, so it’s big year for them. The first year pros will also be eager to impress and I want them to do that in games such as the ones tonight and tomorrow.”
As for bringing in any new players, the manager may well utilise the loan market.
“I don’t anticipate any new faces coming in this week, though that can change as I am always looking to add to the squad. I have included a number of triallists in these early games, but it’s too soon to say if they will be offered anything. I don’t believe in keeping players hanging around for six weeks or so before making a decision and I hope to sort things out after these next two games.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m not afraid to dip into the loan market, something we used to our advantage last season, so if we don’t get the players I want in on a permanent basis that’s another area I can explore.
“I already have one or two players who interest me and who will be available for loan at the beginning of the season so we will have to wait and see.”
As for Saturday’s game against an Arsenal XI, the manager said; “I will field an experienced team for our first home friendly on Saturday and will utilise a squad of 18 players.”