Blues preparing for next step

Cheick Keita
Cheick Keita

Pep Clotet says he will mix the teams up to try and give as many players 90 minutes as possible over the next 24 hours.


Blues have back-to-back friendlies, starting this lunchtime.

Swindon Town are the visitors to the Trillion Trophy Training Centre, Wast Hills, in a behind-closed-doors match (1pm).

And then it's off to the Memorial Ground to take on Bristol Rovers on Saturday (1pm),

Both friendlies are to be streamed live on BluesTV, click here to find out more.

Pep Clotet says he will mix the teams up to try and give as many players 90 minutes as possible over the next 24 hours.

Cheick Keita is set for his first involvement this pre-season after a hamstring injury.

And new signing Dan Crowley could also play a part today.

Ivan Guzman and Agustin Medina, UE Cornella players who have been training with Blues, might also figure against Swindon.

Jonathan Grounds (calf) and Geraldo Bajrami (hernia) are still not ready for action, but Corey O'Keeffe, who missed Blues first match in Portugal due to a knee niggle, is available again.

Jacques Maghoma has extra time off due to his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.

“We are adjusting a little bit," said Clotet. "We will have teams to play on Friday and Saturday, one game here at our training ground and one away from home.

“My goal is to give everyone 90 minutes, where possible. For most of the players for a second time.

“Things are going to be a little bit mixed.

“Results are not important. What is, is to keep adding minutes, keep taking the right steps forward and in this respect I am very happy with the attitude of everyone.

“This is a group that been playing together for many years and we are looking to add to it. We are testing a lot of things as well. We are testing the three at the back, we are testing different positions up front.

“That’s what these games are about. To test as many things as possible, to find out where our players feel more comfortable, to discover as many things as we can for the coming weeks.”

Clotet's squad have trained for a week at their home base since coming back from a Portugal camp that he says was beneficial.

Blues drew both their games, against CD Cova Piedade and host club Vitoria Setubal in the Torneio Internacional Do Sado.

“It was very good," said Clotet. “We faced very tough opposition, in a couple of respects.

“The first is that the football is so different in Portugal. The level of organisation of those teams is very different than it is in England, in terms of the way they play.

“It was something new for us to face, and that brought us a good experience.

“The stresses of the games, some of the things we tried to do - for example having the right distances in defence - that was tested to the maximum against these kind of teams.

“I was happy with it. I’m not discrediting the performance of the boys because of the kind of goals we conceded. They were typical goals in pre-season.

“We managed not to lose games which were difficult and we had chances that we could have converted.

“So I was very satisfied, especially in the second game when we played a team from the highest level, from a very competitive league.”

“The physical performance of everyone – that was the main point – was good, and the fact that players were able to play 90 minutes in the second game, that will be massive for us going forward," added Clotet.