Experience has taught him that positive pre-season results will be no barometer of success when the serious business starts next month, writes James Shield.
But, as Sheffield United prepare to begin another pre-season campaign, Nigel Adkins last night revealed he has set his players one all-important target.
“From my perspective, the main priority is not seeing anybody get injured,” he said. “This will be my 34th pre-season and I’ve seen teams win every game and then struggle. Or vice versa.
So the main objective, as far as I’m concerned, is keeping everybody fit and making sure that we enter our first League One game at Gillingham on August 8 with them all available for selection.”
Despite placing little significance on the outcome of this afternoon’s friendly at Ilkeston, which marks of the start of a six match schedule including games against Newcastle and Hull City, Adkins will be closely analysing United’s performance.
“Can we build on the messages we’ve been giving at the training ground? That’s something we’ll definitely be looking for.
“The attitude and the application of the players has been excellent since we came in. That’s good to see because it’s vitally important.
“It sets the tone because nothing is going to be handed to us next season. Nothing at all.
“Everything you achieve, you have to earn. Because, make no mistake, this division is a grind.”
Adkins, the former Scunthorpe and Southampton chief, took charge of United nearly seven weeks ago.
Ilkeston have also undergone a change at the helm this summer with Gavin Strachan, son of Scotland manager Gordon, replacing the Nuneaton Town bound Kevin Wilson.
The Evo-Stick Northern Premier League side slipped to a narrow defeat when United’s arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday visited the New Manor Ground on Wednesday evening.
“We defended really well,” Strachan said. “Hopefully we can show the same resilience against Sheffield United.
“It should be a really good, stern test for us. It’s a game we are looking forward too.”