James Collins is hoping the extra time he’s had on the training pitch with his settled squad will prove it’s worth when the under-23s take on Aston Villa on Friday night.
Following their loss to Stoke City a fortnight ago, the development squad had a weekend without a competitive match, allowing the head coach to increase the intensity in training. With the squad now set for the rest of the season following the closure of the transfer window, Collins hopes his players will take advantage of the added practice time.
On having two weeks between matches
“It’s a fine balance. You like having the games, because the games are the bits of the job that the players enjoy. All players want to do is play games. But for coaches, the gaps between games allows you the chance to work with the players more closely and focus around the individual stuff without the pressure of the competition.
“We’d liked to have more games than we’ve had this year, but it’s been a Covid-hit season as regards to under-23 football. We haven’t had the Premier League Cup, we haven’t had the International Cup and there’s been no Birmingham Senior Cup.
“But we have to take advantage of the opportunity that a lack of fixtures brings; the opportunity to coach the players, try to improve the players’ strengths and weaknesses, without the physical demands of the games, so you can crank up the intensity in training.
“When you’re going from one game straight into the next, the days before and after the match are light days, but when there’s no games, the amount of work you can do goes up, so in that way we’ve tried to use it to our advantage.
“But we’re preparing the players for our first-team or a football league team, and if they do that, they’re going to be playing game after game, and need to get used to that.”