After two and a bit weeks of varied pre season training, Dave Hoole says his Matlock Town charges are ready for some game time as the Gladiators look forward to their opening two warm up games in the coming week.

Mansfield Town visit the Proctor Cars Stadium on Tuesday night (7.30 pm) before on Thursday there is the return of former Gladiators Academy defender Max Hunt with Derby County following Hunt’s move to Pride Park in January.

“We’re ready for the games, the boys have responded really well during the past two and a half weeks” said the Gladiators boss.

“They all look sharp and you can tell that they’ve looked after themselves.

We’re all looking forward to the challenge of facing the pro clubs and what lies ahead in the coming season.

We’ve mixed the training up. Myself and the management team have got our heads together to vary the training as much as we could, the modern day pre-season is not only about running and five or six aside games. We’ve taken advice from various people and have included the plyometric side of things, a different type of fitness and we’ve spent time swimming and in the gym.”

Hoole has been unable to confirm any further signings since striker Kieran Watson was signed from Shirebrook Town a fortnight ago, but says more additions should be confirmed during the pre season programme.

“ We’ve had trialists with us who’ve worked really hard, if things go right with them maybe we can get them on board. Obviously we can’t reveal who they are at the present time but we’re all really happy with the way things have gone so far and looking forward to the games starting against Mansfield on Tuesday night” Hoole added.

Matlock’s Academy side got off to a terrific start in the Shanghai Tournament out in China winning their opening two group games. After beating the Fiji national side 2-1 on Monday, the Gladiators youngsters then defeated Arsenal 1-0 twenty four hours later with their final group game against a Chinese Select team in the early hours of Wednesday.

“The results have been absolutely fantastic, outstanding” Hoole said.
“It shows all the boys are working hard and they’re a credit to Justin Tellus, Jamie Holmes, themselves and the club and everyone should be very proud of them. We’re hoping some of their success can rub off on the first team. The club has so much depth and that’s down to the academy which is the future of the club.”

Last Friday sixteen year old Zak Brunt became the second young player to move from Matlock to a Championship club in six months when he signed for Sheffield United. Hoole thinks that Brunt can be a future first team player with the Blades.

“I’m over the moon for him, everyone knows about the issues that have followed Zak about recently but he came to Matlock, knuckled down and put those issues behind him. He’s going to one of the best academies at Sheffield United and I know he’ll continue to work hard and he’ll kick on and eventually make the first team. I think he can do it.”

Brunt made his Evo-Stik NPL debut for Matlock a day after his sixteenth birthday as a substitute in the 3-3 draw at Witton Albion last November.

Ian Richardson

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