Exeter City manager Matt Taylor highlighted a number of positives from the Grecians’ pre-season trip to Jersey.
The City squad travelled to the Channel Islands last Tuesday to undergo a pre-season training camp which was rounded off with a 5-0 win over Jersey FA on Friday evening.
The camp has also given new signings the chance to integrate with the team as they looked continue their season preparations.
On the win over Jersey and how their progress has gone, Matt explained: “We’re four days into pre-season, the lads were back in on Monday and it’s an early start for us. We’ve built the week up, we’ve not played too much football, and to play on a 3G surface at the end of the week was always going to be tough but the lads applied themselves really well and it’s nice to score some goals and keep a clean sheet.
“We’ve got to be ruthless, certainly in the 18-yard box in an attacking sense this season. Holmesy (Lee Holmes) showed his quality with the free-kick and that was the best bit of play all night to be honest. We had a purpose about us in terms of the way we went about the game, the lads are playing limited game time at the moment and nobody got more than 45 minutes. It’s always good for the new signings to integrate into the squad and the young boys to step forward and get an opportunity.”
The second half of the match with Jersey saw the Grecians field a side heavily filled with under-23 players and Matt admits he is pleased to see the progression that the players have made of the past year.
“They’re another year on in their development and hopefully they’re another year closer to the first team,” said Matt. “Some of those players have got to play an important part in the league campaign so hopefully some of them can step into their place. Some of them are showing some really good signs of that, and they’re physically stronger than last year. They will be mentally better from the loan spells, but it’s about playing League Two football and that’s another level from what they’ve played previously but they will certainly get an opportunity this season.”
Overall on the trip to Jersey, the City manager was keen to thank Jersey FA for their help in ensuring the camp was a success.
He continued: “We’ve been looked after really well, and I’d like to thank Jersey FA for the part they’ve played. We’ve used the facilities in terms of Jersey Wanderers, including the rugby club as well, the hotel has been excellent, and they had a running track so the boys could do some fitness work. We’ve built the week, it’s still so early for us and the work will start at the training ground from Monday onwards. We’ve had a change of environment, the weather has been pretty kind to us, the lads have had a bit of down time and a bit of golf. It’s about being together and being a team.”
Matt has also added new faces to the dressing room over the last week with Alex Fisher being joined by Jonny Maxted and Gary Warren.
On Alex, who joined after departing Yeovil Town, the City manager says the Grecians have acquired a player who can be effective going into the 2019/20 season.
“He’s a handful, he’s got physical attributes, he can run and has an edge to his game. He’s always performed well against us in the past, he was on trial here a few years ago but obviously missed out,” said Matt. “He’s been up to Scotland and come back down to Yeovil and he’s ambitious and a good character. If we give him the right service then he will score goals, he’s been on our radar a little while now and he’ll be a good option for us. He knows what the league is about and what it takes to be successful, he started last season really well and scored a lot of goals up until Christmas and it was a difficult second half to the season in terms of what happened at Yeovil.”
Matt also brought in Gary Warren who brings with him a wealth of experience into the City dressing room and the City manager is hopeful that the central defender will be able to have a positive influence on some of the younger members of the squad.
He said: “My time at Team Bath didn’t quite coincide with Gary’s and we missed each other by a year or so but I know what he’s like as a character and ability. I get on with Gary well and I know exactly what he’s going to bring to that changing room, he’s an experienced head and a really good voice and he’ll set a fine example to those younger players. Plus, when he’s fit and raring to go, he’s a good player.”
Matt was also able to add to his goalkeeping options for the new season with Jonny Maxted signing permanently following his departure from League One side, Accrington Stanley.
He continued: “Jonny played the best part of 20 games in League One last season at Accrington. He’s come here to try and cement a number one spot and he’ll be good competition for Lewis (Ward) and they’ll balance off each other pretty well. I want competition in the goalkeeping department, we know how important it is off the back of Christy leaving and having released the other two goalkeepers (James Hamon and Felix Norman.) I’m delighted to get him on board, I know there was a lot of chat about no goalkeepers but we’ve now got two in the door and there will probably be a third but that will be a younger profile, someone who can work with us for a number of seasons.”
On the rest of the transfer window, Matt admits he’s pleased to have recruited early but is still keen to add more bodies to further strengthen his options for the League Two campaign.
He explained: “We did a bit of business early, it takes time. We’ve been working on these deals for a number of weeks now and we’re pleased to get the majority of those new signings out here and integrated into the squad. Nigel (Atangana) has been out here as well, he’s been part of the group and done a lot of good work with the physio. Nigel’s going to keep building and building over the next couple of months. The group have come together this weekend finished it off well with a performance.
“I know where I want to strengthen, the more difficult ones are the centre forwards of this world and goal scorers but there are certain areas of the pitch where I want to really have two good quality players for each position so there’s real competition. With the depth that we’ve got at the moment, two or three more signings then I’ll be pleased.”
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