Abbott ready to put Town's pre-season progress to the test
TOP marksman Pawel Abbott says fierce competition for places will spur Town through tonight's Copa De Ibiza opener against Coventry City in San Antonio (8.00 BST).
The 24-year-old frontman, who bagged 27 goals last season, has enjoyed a tough pre-season schedule so far but can't wait for the match action to start against Micky Adams' side in a first meeting between the clubs since 1977.
"It will be a very good test for us and especially to see how our fitness is and how we compare with a Championship club at this stage," said Abbott after a first 85-minute training session in 90-degree heat.
"All the lads are looking forward to it and with very strong competition for places in every department, everyone wants to do well in tonight's game.
"I don't think you can look around the squad at the moment and pick an automatic starting XI.
"We've got 19 lads here who are all capable of starting and there are six more at home who could also do a job, so everyone knows they are going to have to work hard to get a place in the side this season."
Despite his goals last season, which helped carry Town to within a point of the play-offs, Abbott, pictured right, counts himself among those with work to do.
While Andy Booth (right ankle strain) and Gary Taylor-Fletcher (stomach bug) are not in action tonight, Abbott explained: "I was fortunate to get quite a few goals last season, but I know I've got to improve and work to be better.
"Fletch has come in to put even more pressure on the strikers in the squad so, first and foremost, we've all got to fight to get a place.
"My aim since the end of last season has been to try and do even better this time and this pre-season work is very important.
"The hotel, which is right on the beach, is nice and the facilities are excellent, but we've come here to work and, if possible, to win the tournament against Coventry, QPR and the Island XI.
"Yesterday's training was tough, but the gaffer made a good decision to train early at 8.15am and then to have breakfast later because, by the time we came off the pitch, it was already getting to the stage where it was becoming too hot."
A handful of Town fans watched yesterday's session from nearby apartments, where they are staying on the official Playhard Sports package for the event.
Coventry, who will entertain QPR in their first match at the new 32,000-seat £113m Ricoh Stadium on Saturday, August 20, are without striker Stern John, on international duty with Trinidad, and his compatriot, newly-signed ex-Crewe goalkeeper Clayton Ince, who was unable to get a visa in time.
But they will field trialist keeper Mark Paston, a New Zealand international and former Bradford and Walsall player.
James Scowcroft, recruited from Leicester, is in line to play.