Sheffield United: Clough’s warning to returning stars

Ben Davies

Ben Davies

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Manager Nigel Clough has warned his Sheffield United players to enjoy every last minute of their summer break - before they are “worked doubly hard” in pre-season training next week.

United, who finished seventh in League One last season and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, will reconvene at the Redtooth Academy on July 3 to begin their preparations for the new league campaign, which begins on August 9 against Bristol City.

As The Star revealed earlier this month, Clough has shunned the chance to take his players away on a week-long pre-season training camp - and, instead, his charges will be put through their paces at the club’s training complex, with a three-day break in Merseyside thrown in.

“The players are going to be worked doubly hard next week,” Clough said.

“Hopefully they’ve heard our pre-season is tough from the others like Ben [Davies] and Kieron [Freeman]. So they’ll have had a good rest, because they deserved it, but stayed in shape.”

Freeman, who worked under Clough at Derby County, enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at United last season and could be set to make a return to Bramall Lane, albeit on another temporary transfer.

Davies, who also spent the latter parts of last season on loan at United, will again be reunited with former Rams boss Clough after agreeing a one-year deal to remain in South Yorkshire.

The 33-year-old said: “I’d like to think I have a few more years in me yet. I do pride myself on my fitness and the gaffer knows that.

“As soon as you tick over the 30 mark in football, people start to raise question marks about you but that’s not the case for me.

“I like to be at the front of everything and I think of myself as a ‘young 33’. So far - touch wood - my legs still feel like they did when I was 23.”

Those words will be music to the ears of Clough, who is keen to ensure that United are one of the fittest sides in League One next season.

“We’re going to Formby for three days, but we’re not having a week-long camp or anything like that,” Clough added.

“All of the players have already been away on holiday over the summer, so they probably appreciate being at home.”

United, meanwhile, have confirmed a series of pre-season friendlies for their development squad.

The youngsters, who will embark on a tour of Holland at the end of next month, will also play four games on English soil ahead of the new term.

Neighbours Chesterfield travel to the Redtooth Academy on July 12, before the Blades youngsters travel to Stocksbridge Park Steels (July 18), Hallam (July 21) and Belper Town (July 25).