Collins | On under-23's pre-season, learning from Lage and Nantwich friendly

Under-23 head coach James Collins believes Wolves’ pre-season preparation has been a great experience for all his players, with half of his squad currently working with the first-team.

The development team have seen their squad split this summer, with a dozen of the boys training with new boss Bruno Lage and his senior players, while the other half have joined forces with the under-18s at Lilleshall.

Ahead of the team prepare to face Nantwich Town on Friday evening in their first pre-season fixture, Collins explains how he has been trying to implement Lage’s way of playing upon the younger players at the club.

On first two weeks of pre-season

“We’ve been back for about a fortnight and a lot of our players have spent their time down with the new manager, which is brilliant for them and has been a great experience.

“They’ve been stepping in for the lads who have been away on international duty and at the Euros, so it’s given the manager an opportunity to see them and get to know them.

“But it’s also given our boys a chance to work with him closely and understand the way he wants the first-team to play this season, to make that transition between under-23s and first-team as smooth as possible.

“I also spent three or four days down with Bruno last week and it was a great learning experience for myself to pick up the manager’s methodologies and get to know his staff, which has been great for me.”

On a combined under-23 and under-18 pre-season camp

“The good thing about a lot of our numbers going into the first-team, it’s given me a good chance to get to know the younger lads a little bit better.

“It’s allowed me to build a relationship with players who we hope will be with us in our group shortly, and hopefully, they will also benefit from training with the under-23 boys.

“Sometimes you only see the players who are new to the under-18s from a distance, but by working with them every day and getting to know their ins and outs, how they are and their personalities, it can only help us as a club moving forward.

“It’s hard for the boys, but it’s how the club wants to progress. We want to challenge the players early and challenge the players young to play up an age group, but it has to be something the players are up to.”

On Friday evening’s friendly

“This week we’ve been getting the lads who’ve been training with us at Lilleshall prepared for our first pre-season game away at Nantwich.

“We are going to be a very young team for the match because our older boys have been up with the first-team – we might even have a few 15 and 16-year-olds involved.

“They’ve been training with us for the last couple of weeks and although they’re young, it gives them a good opportunity to show us how they would cope moving forward.”

On aims of the pre-season fixtures

“We’re trying to create a training culture for the players because we’ve got new lads coming up from the under-18s, so we become a new group every year.

“Pre-season is all about getting everyone linking together and understanding the standards which we expect from a training point of view.

“The games are there to make sure the boys are fit and ready in time for the season, but we also want to implement the new manager’s style of play and methodology. That’s because every manager has a different way of doing things and Bruno will be no different.

“Our players are going to have to be intelligent enough to adapt to a slightly different style, but the signs so far are that they’ll be able to do that.”

On mirroring the first-team’s methods

“If we’re doing our job right, the transition between under-23s and first-team should be quite easy. But it’s something they’re used to; some weeks they will train for a few days with the first-team and then they’ll come back with us for a day or two, and then they’ll be back with the first-team.

“They’re used to that, and it was something they were used to under Nuno and it looks like that will continue moving forward.  Some players find it easier than others, but they’re all on their own individual journey.

“With the group who are currently training with the new manager, some will be ready to go out on loan, some will be coming back to us for the season and some will spend more time with the first-team.

“They go to Marbella next week and the manager will have most of his players back, which means we should have a few of ours come back down to us as well. We’ll be at St George’s Park and it gives us time to do some things we haven’t been able to do yet because we haven’t all been together, but it should all work out well.”

Wolves under-23’s pre-season fixtures:

16/07 Nantwich Town (A)

20/07 Accrington Stanley (H)

24/07 Middlesbrough (H)

28/07 Crewe Alexandra (H)

03/08 Sheffield United (N)

06/08 Hull City (N)