'Ajax Date Will Boost Armory'

By SFC Media Thu 26 Jul Club

Nigel Adkins says playing against teams such as Ajax will help equip Saints with the ability to take on the very best.

First Team Manager Nigel Adkins says playing against teams such as Ajax will help equip Saints with the ability to take on the best of the Barclays Premier League this season.

The reigning Dutch champions visit St Mary's on Saturday, and are the third of four teams qualified for this year's UEFA Champions League to do so during pre-season.

And gaffer Adkins believes that giving his players the opportunity to test themselves against such clubs will educate them as to how to deal with what awaits them in the top flight.

"With Anderlecht, Arsenal, Ajax and Udinese, we have teams coming in who play a different way - they are used to keeping good possession of the football and will be clinical when they do get opportunities," Nigel told Saints Player.

"We have to make sure that we can adhere to that because in the Premier League we are going to be faced with situations where it could quite easily be like that on a regular basis.

"It's about arming ourselves with many ways of playing, dealing with opposition and dominating them.

"We can't just play one way throughout the course of a game - we have to be able to alter ourselves two-or-three times. 

"That's the whole idea of this pre-season: arming ourselves with a bit more understanding, confidence and belief in what we're doing so we can adapt in certain situations.

"We played two different ways last season and were very successful with it - we kept possession of the football and scored a lot of goals," he continued. 

"We're trying to add another dimension to the team this year in terms of the way we play so that we can do exactly the same thing - score a lot of goals and keep possession of the football - but also have a good defensive structure about ourselves. 

"As we step up now, we'll be playing against world-class players who, when given half-a-chance, will punish you a lot more than we would have been punished in the Championship."

Saints returned from a week-long training camp in the French resort of Évian-les-Bains last Sunday, with the vast majority of Adkins' players now having at least one-and-a-half games' worth of match practice under their belts.

And the gaffer expects players' involvement to be stepped up for the visit of the Amsterdam giants on Saturday: "It's another progression," he affirmed. 

"The lads have had three 45-minute games so far, though one-or-two have had a little bit more game-time. 

"What we're looking to do now is make sure that the players start to increase their time but also the intensity that we're demanding of them so that, when we do get to the start of the season and beyond, we can keep progressing. 

"I thought we progressed well last season with the training programme that we had so that we actually got fitter and stronger towards the end of the campaign. 

"We don't just want to peak at the first game and filter off, but we want to keep that steady progression all the way through."

A full and in-depth interview with First Team Manager Nigel Adkins is on Saints Player now.

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