The Owls’ pre-season is underway, with five new faces on the way to Hillsborough. Here, manager Darren Moore issues an exclusive update from Middlewood Road.
ON MICHAEL SMITH & MICHAEL IHIEKWE
For me they will bring a wealth of experience and a wealth of leadership. One will bring goal prowess and a better ability to help you win games and the other will bring a solidity to your backline. We have strengthened both boxes in terms of ability, size and presence. It does what it says on the tin if you look at their playing records over recent seasons, the stats speak for themselves. They have a robustness and fitness to their game which is exceptional.
ON BEN HENEGHAN, DAVD STOCKDALE & WILL VAULKS
Good experience again, which is important. I think Ben will be an excellent signing for us, I really do. Ben is someone I have known for two or three years now and when I heard of his availability I wanted to bring him in straight away. With the centre back situation and the players who left at the end of last season, we knew it was an area that needed addressing and Ben is a great acquisition.
With David, he’s been there, done that and has that knowhow. I didn’t want to go down the route of a loan goalkeeper this time, I wanted our own player and I’m delighted we’ve managed to do that.
With Will, once we knew he was available, we fought off interest from other clubs to get him here. I’m delighted to have him in the building, he’s someone of good experience with the right character and the right ilk. In terms of the dimensions and dynamics of the team, Will is an excellent addition.
BATTLE FOR THE GLOVES
Cameron Dawson has come back to us on the back of a 46-game loan that helped Exeter to promotion into our division. We have a different Cameron Dawson back and I’m really pleased with that.
Both goalkeepers are in different places in their careers and both will be pushing each other every step of the way in terms of fighting for that number one spot. It will be a battle for the gloves, 100%.
THE BUSINESS SO FAR
I am really pleased overall. We know what we want, we’re not just going for anyone and everyone. They are specific targets. Last season the stats and figures were a real improvement at the club and to keep improving you have to keep getting better. We have looked at the dynamics of the team and some of the shortcomings and tried to correct them whilst maintaining our identity. We have only added players who tick the right boxes.
ON EARLY SIGNINGS
We have managed to get five over the line nice and early and now pre-season will be all about getting them settled and integrating them into the camp. The quicker you bring players in, the longer you get to work with them in preparation for the start of the season and that is a big positive.
It's a really exciting start to the season with a home game against Portsmouth. We’re at Hillsborough for the first time in a few years on the first day so that’s great for our supporters. It’s a great fixture for both clubs and the division.
It’s a mouthwatering prospect for both clubs really, the start of the season with two big clubs going head-to-head on the first day. Portsmouth are a well-supported club, they will bring plenty of fans up here, we will have new players on show in front of a big crowd in a terrific atmosphere. But first things first and right now it’s all about pre-season and putting all the right preparations in place.
Last year we went to Wales quite early on but this year we can do it differently and we decided to have a couple of weeks here at our training ground before heading out to Portugal for some warm weather training. The new players will be able to get a feel for the place here first while getting that base level fitness in. Then we go to Portugal and a training camp where you are effectively locked away in-house and you can implement some really good work. There’s usually double sessions in pre-season at home but in Portugal you can get three sessions in, you get more dedicated time to implement things in a different environment.
READY TO GO
We’ve got six weeks of pre-season but that will be gone in the blink of an eye and before you know it we’ll be playing Portsmouth on that opening day. It doesn’t seem two minutes since the last campaign finished but here we are again talking about the new one. It’s been a quick summer but we’re back, our work has started and we’re all really looking forward to the new campaign.