MICK Wadsworth will take a strong Hartlepool United side to Workington tomorrow – but admits he’d rather do away with pre-season friendlies completely.
The Pools first-team coach has always been a forward thinker when it comes to football, evidenced by his previous employment as technical co-ordinator at the FA.
Yet his notion of scrapping summer warm-up matches will surely raise a few eyebrows throughout the game.
Wadsworth concedes it is an idea which will never be sanctioned, but his argument nonetheless makes some sense.
And, as he explained to SportMail today, he fears too many matches can dampen a player’s appetite ahead of the new campaign.
“I’ve always anchored this idea of doing a pre-season with no games,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s cross-country trek to Cumbria’s coast (kick-off 3pm).
“Because I honestly don’t think it would make a ha’penny of difference. I’ve had that idea for a long while.
“I believe you could just work and work and work on the training field and they would be like caged lions wouldn’t they, come the start of the season?
“Of course we’d have a practice game with ourselves on the training ground, but no friendlies, I believe, would make the players desperately hungry for that first game.
“It’s an experiment I’ve always wanted to do, but I don’t think I will ever get the chance.
“The demands are that we’ve got to have gates, so it will never happen.”
The friendly against Conference North Workington is Pools’ fifth of 10 scheduled before the season opener at MK Dons.
The final warm-up match is the testimonial clash for Ritchie Humphreys, against Sunderland on August 2, originally pencilled in for last Saturday until the Black Cats organised a tour of Germany.
And, while Wadsworth is anticipating a fantastic occasion to celebrate Humphreys’ 10 years at Victoria Park, he admits he may have to exercise caution with his team selection, given the proximity to the new season.
“My only slight doubt about pre-season is the timing of the Sunderland game – it isn’t ideal for us,” he said. “It’s five days before the season starts, but we can’t not take it and it’ll be a terrific occasion, I’m sure.
“It’s just one of those things. Sunderland’s schedule changed – it was no fault of Steve Bruce and he was fantastic about it. He said that no matter what happens, we will play you.
“That was really the only time we could fit it in. After the York game on the last Saturday I will have to think very, very carefully in terms of how I approach it because the opening Saturday is the one.
“But we don’t want to disrespect it from Ritchie’s point of view – and we wouldn’t.
“He deserves a marvellous night and I’m sure we’ll get a cracking crowd and an occasion to remember.”