Huzzey happy with response after disappointing start...
Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey was pleased with the response of the squad to a disappointing first period in their opening pre-season friendly against Millwall.
“It was a bit of an indifferent match,” Huzzey reported. “Neither myself or Ricky [Duncan, Academy Manager] thought the first period was good enough, but we grew into the game in the second and third periods.”
“It’s hard for the boys because it’s the first game. It’s quite early on; we’ve only had four training sessions. We’ve done a lot of running, so it’s been a good start training-wise, and it’s good to have an early game and the boys performed well.”
Blues took to the pitch having returned to training on July 1st, and Huzzey confirmed that the first friendly was principally about giving everyone game-time after the summer break: “We tried to make sure everyone got a minimum of half-an-hour and we got almost 45 minutes across the board in the end.”
“There was just Nico Cotton missing today. They’ve all come back and, speaking to our strength and conditioning coach Stef Russo this week, he’s shocked with their results because they’ve come back so fit. It’s a really athletic group, so it’s good that they have that as well as being technically gifted.”
“Millwall have got some very good individuals and they were good today. We don’t read into the results at all in pre-season. It was only 2-0 and we had chances to score ourselves. We hit the bar twice and the post once, so we did look like we could score.”
All of the players involved had appeared for the U18s last year, and Huzzey was enthusiastic about the involvement of the club’s new first-year scholars: “We’ve got a different mix this year. We have a lot of strong characters amongst the first years. You look at Sonny Coutts and he’s a born leader; you wouldn’t think he was a first-year. He wants to win everything.”
“It’s a group that is technically very gifted; it’s one of the best we’ve had in terms of passing and moving. We’ve seen that in training building up to the game, and now they’ve just got to transfer that onto the pitch. At times today we showed glimpses of it, but not enough, and maybe that was because it was the first game. We can show more.”
“I felt Sonny changed the game a little bit when he came on because his passes from defence into midfield opened the game up. Harry Phillips found gaps in between the lines and make things happen and I thought Norman Wabo looked like he’s going to score us some goals this year.”
“Norman’s confident enough to do that, and when he went one-on-one he could’ve scored. He created the chance himself with a good first touch and then burst away with his pace, so that was really pleasing. And Tom Clifford did well; he’s an U16 this year and I think he’ll be involved again.”
“The U16s last year played some really attractive football and passed the ball well. Sometimes you might have to go a bit longer, but the main philosophy is to play so we’ll do a little on mixing it up. The lads’ understanding is good.”
“We’ve got some good friendlies. Oxford are next, who we know from the FA Youth Cup last season, and it’s about gradually building up the fitness and getting to know how we want to play,” he concluded.