Sheffield United: Clough on sweat and science

Nigel Clough drove his players hard during pre-season: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.
Nigel Clough drove his players hard during pre-season: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

Nigel Clough has insisted Sheffield United are now reaping the benefits of their gruelling pre-season programme as he prepares to name a near full-strength squad for tomorrow’s League One game against Rochdale, writes James Shield.

But, despite ordering his players to work up a sweat in the city’s swimming pools and parks this summer rather than establish a training camp abroad, Clough also credited United’s revamped conditioning department for helping keep them out of the treatment room and on the pitch.

Confirming Stefan Scougall (knee) is expected to be the only absentee for the club’s eighth match of the new campaign, Clough said: “We are just starting to see the benefits of pre-season in the last couple of games. The extra-time at West Ham proved that and then three or four days after, to go and put in a good physical performance at Preston, that was a good sign as well.”

United, who knocked Sam Allardyce’s side out of the Capital One Cup 5-4 on penalties before drawing 1-1 at Deepdale, revealed Craig Alcock is poised to return to action after missing the visit to Lancashire with a thigh complaint.

“We are trying to move with the times, we have good fitness people in, like Lee McMahon and Lee Rickards, so before we start training we also do a lot of pre-hab stuff which is essentially about injury prevention,” Clough said. “Those lads are the experts in that field, not us, so it goes without saying that we listen to them. They know what they are talking about,

“The players buy into it. During pre-season, when they are running around tracks and parks, they don’t like it. Then they go to West Ham, go through extra-time, and, when they are not feeling too bad, they think ‘hold on a minute, that might have actually done us some good’.

“It’s the things that the fans don’t see, the little things, which can make a big difference. Those are also things we are trying to improve behind the scenes because the small details are vitally important.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1