Match preview: Ross targeting winning mentality in U23s’ pre-season opener

Neil Ross has stated “the focus is on the result” on Monday despite it being just the U23s’ first pre-season friendly, to create a winning mentality after last season’s semi-final exit in the West Riding County Cup.

Players promoted from within last year’s younger Academy sides have already developed that mentality, according to Ross, while “four or five trialists” will be involved against Settle United.

Several first-team players in need of match fitness may also be present, Ross waiting on confirmation from first-team manager Adam Lakeland after their friendly vs Colne on Saturday.

Fitness has been a key focus of U23s’ pre-season training so far with Ross explaining it is the main element he looks for in his players, and his squad have prepared well by doing their own private work during off-season.

“After last year’s disappointment of losing the semi-final, I think it’s important now to get that winning mentality into the players and nobody enjoyed losing that semi-final,” began Ross. “I think it still hurts a few of the players, especially myself and everyone else who was involved so I think it’s important to start off how we mean to go on and that’s hopefully with a win and looking now at building that squad and getting that mentality right throughout the squad.

“The mentality of the players that have come in, they’ve been around what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years but I think it’s important for myself to emphasise the importance of winning games, not in terms of winning leagues but the important of winning games is a boost for the squad and a boost for the players coming in to be around a part of that winning mentality.”

“I think we had around the 40-mark of players on trial and there’s probably 4 or 5 that’ll be involved on Monday night that have come out of them trials. Obviously it’s all about how they react in games, you can be good in training, you can put the effort in in a trial but how consistent can they be, can they be building week after week training. So it’s important we put them in that scenario ‘go out and perform and show in a competitive game, what you can do’.

“Fitness, I think, is the main element of football. If you’re unfit, you’re not going to be able to play football, not being able to get round the pitch, not going to be able to keep possession of the ball when you’re tired. To be fair to all the lads, they’re fit, they’ve kept themselves going over the summer. I know people over the last couple of weeks, have been doing stuff at home, doing their own training programmes, training with their own clubs”.

The U23s host Settle United at the Citadel on the 2nd August, 7:45pm kick-off.