TOWN will get to work on some top secret set-piece routines next week.
So far, Andy Ritchie’s pre-season has been about general fitness, with the schedule of friendlies being stepped up a notch against League II Rochdale at Spotland today.
From Monday onwards, however, and with Wednesday’s big home friendly against Premiership Blackburn next on the horizon (7.45), the manager will focus on preparing set plays which will hopefully pay off when the campaign proper starts against Yeovil at the Galpharm.
“We’ve got a little bit of a winning streak going, which is nice, but everything we do at the moment is geared to making sure we are right for that big kick-off against Yeovil on August 11,” said Ritchie last night.
“These friendlies don’t mean anything if we don’t produce when it really matters, so while I’m very happy with where we are and with how things have been going, there’s still more detailed preparation to take care of.”
Ritchie is delighted with the way Danny Cadamarteri and Malvin Kamara have fitted in, but he’s got an open mind on how best to organise free-kicks and corners for this season.
“Danny is a livewire who holds the ball up for us and gets in behind the opposition defence, while Malvin is an explosive player who will do things you just don’t expect at times.
“They’ve slotted into the squad superbly, but we still have things to do and elements to work on, such as our set-piece routines, and these will be at the forefront of our work for the next fortnight.”
Defender Frank Sinclair (pictured) took command of free-kicks in this week’s 1-0 victory at Bradford Park Avenue, going close with one 25-yard effort, while Kamara scored from the edge of the box at Bridlington last weekend.
“We have got one or two things up our sleeve, but I’ve never been one to believe you should be showing your hand in pre-season,” said Ritchie.
“The lads have been doing things off the cuff so far and we’ll work on some other things in secret, ready for the season.
“I don’t think anyone is arguing over the free-kicks. Frank has had one or two so far and keeps trying to indicate to us how close he’s been to scoring, while Malvin curled one in last week, so we’ll have a good look at all our options.”
Wednesday’s visitors Blackburn are closing in on Bayern Munich striker Roque Santa Cruz.
Manager Mark Hughes is hoping to conclude a deal for the highly rated 25-year-old Paraguay international sometime today.
Hughes said: “We are very hopeful something may happen in that respect.
“Maybe a deal could be concluded if the price is right.”
Hughes is already well-off for strikers, with Benni McCarthy, Jason Roberts, Matt Derbyshire and new recruit Maceo Rigters on his books.