NIGEL ADKINS has praised the attitude of his Sheffield United squad after admitting to initially being disappointed by the condition of some players at the start of pre-season.
The Blades travel to Gillingham for tomorrow’s opening day game buoyed by an unbeaten warm-up to the League One season that included meetings with Newcastle United and Hull City.
Now, Adkins wants to see his side take the same application and attitude into the league campaign as United look to escape the third tier at the fifth attempt.
“We are looking forward to the season,” said the 50-year-old ahead of his competitive bow as Blades manager. “The build-up has been good and everyone got game-time. The attitude and application of the players has been top drawer.
“There is a feelgood factor about the place. We had some good results, some of our performances have been good and our build-up work has been good. The big thing, of course, is how we do this season but, for me, we have given ourselves an opportunity to do well.”
On taking over at Bramall Lane, Adkins made it a priority to sit down with each member of the squad for a half-hour ‘getting-to-know-you’ session.
These one-to-ones were conducted at Champneys health resort during a four-day stay for the United party at the start of last month and Adkins has been delighted by how every single player has since responded.
“I can only take people on face value,” he said. “And, from the day I joined this club, the players have been outstanding. I would have liked them to be in better condition when we first came back and I have highlighted that.
“But, from that first day back, they have been outstanding and had a really good go. We now need to take that into the season.”
Jay McEveley was yesterday confirmed as the Blades’ new captain for the season by Adkins, who wants all his players to take respsonsibility during the coming campaign.
He said: “The players have to make decisions and be bold enough to do that. I like to think we have a good coaching and development structure at the club. To do that, people need to learn and you do that by doing things.
“The more you do it, that is how you learn if certain things work and certain things don’t.
Adkins also revealed that United have a couple of injury worries ahead of the trip to Kent but declined to go into details.