Pre-season is key for Sheffield United, says boss Chris Wilder

Sheffield United players in pre-season traing at EIS in Sheffield George Long

Sheffield United players in pre-season traing at EIS in Sheffield George Long

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It’s a period loved by fans starved of seeing their team on the field, and hated by players who dread the sessions after the holidays.

But, as Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder insisted last night, pre-season has a valuable part to play in shaping a successful season.

“Pre-season is important,” said Wilder, ahead of his side’s first friendly against Stocksbridge Park Steels this afternoon (3pm).

“It’s when we really get a good chance to look at the players and, just as importantly, they get a chance to learn about us.

“What we expect and what we want from them. It’s hard work but then the season itself is hard work.

“Nothing is going to come easy and so that’s why we are pushing people now. We’re doing it sensibly though, always have done and always will.

“If someone needs to drop out for a session or two then they will. But it’s important for them to be out there on the grass as much as possible.

“I think that goes without saying. There aren’t any short cuts to be had.”

Wilder, who unveiled James Wilson as his third summer acquisition earlier this week before signing John Fleck and Jack O’Connell, also took his side to the English Institute of Sport to take part in a boxing session with coaches from Sheffield City Boxing Club.

“The boxing was something different,” Wilder said.

“It will come in really useful, it was really helpful but was really enjoyable too. I’ve always said we’ve got some brilliant facilities in this city and that we want to use them.

“The lads got a lot out of it. I was looking forward to seeing them get beaten up a bit because I hadn’t seen anyone be sick since we came back. Joking aside, though, it will have brought them on with their levels and also brought them closer together too.

“That’s what we want to see.”

United will send a full-strength squad to Stocksbridge to face Chris Hilton’s Steels.

Academy graduates Ben Whiteman, Aaron Ramsdale, Callum Semple and Graham Kelly have all trained with the first team squad ahead of the match.