Lyttle gives update as pre-season set to begin

Sligo Rovers will return to pre-season training this week, with manager Gerard Lyttle speaking of importance of a detailed preparation for his players in advance of the start of the new league season.

Rovers will assemble on Friday and forgo the traditional first day of pre-season with a ball session in advance of flying out to Rotterdam for the first friendly with RKSV Leonidas.

A squad of 16 players will travel for the friendly, including an attacking player on trial with the club, for the game hosted by the Dutch side.

Lyttle said: "The trip to Rotterdam means we have changed what was originally planned. We were going to have a bigger assessment on the first day but instead we'll shake some of the cobwebs off and have a 90-minute or so session after the initial look at them.

"We'll introduce the new lads and they can get a feel for things here. The more detailed fitness and weights will come in a couple of days after.

"We travel very early the Saturday morning. This game is a bonus in it allows us to go away together and spend a day or two as a group which helps the gelling together for the new faces.

"The players were given off-season programmes so they'll be fine to play a game. We'll be able to make changes so not everyone will play 90 minutes and it'll tell us where we are starting off in a way.

"It's not something to look too much into, as we said it's more about getting away and starting pre-season with something to get everyone together. We'll have a light session on Sunday in Rotterdam, fly home Sunday evening and we'll start proper pre-season on the Monday."

The Leonidas game will be the first of several pre-season matches. Five have already been scheduled, with one or two set to be added with teams from Irish League and First Division.

Lyttle said the pursuit of players has been the dominant part of readying for the new season.

The Rovers boss quickly assembled 15 players, including the retention of the three player of the year nominees in Kyle Callan-McFadden, Rhys McCabe and Seamus Sharkey, as well as new additions David Cawley, Caolan McAleer and Adam Wixted.

The final members of the squad are likely to come from abroad with the transfer window now open in the UK in the last two days.

He said of work done in recent weeks: "I'm not prepared to jump in for the sake of it. We've been close on a couple of occasions where things have gone against us. One player suffered a serious injury for his club when we felt it was quite possible he'd come here, another we have seen a club at a higher level outbid us late on. You need that bit of luck and it's perseverance that will hopefully find us the players we're looking for.

"We need players to take us to that next level and that's what I'm trying to do. In an ideal world we'd have our squad finalised but with the way the market is where we are looking further afield in England, Scotland and further away, it was probably going to be the case that we'd still be looking now. We're not the only ones in that position to be honest. It's not easy and we have our budget but we keep working at it morning to night through everyone avenue at our disposal.

"I'm not fearful of having to wait for later in the month. It's the right player that counts rather starting pre-season with a full group and I'm confident we'll get them."

The Rovers boss also revealed plans for a goalkeeper to come on trial in mid-January, in addition to the player here this week, both from outside Ireland.

"It's not something I'll go into too much detail on. The first player will be with us from the start, he's a young lad with a lot of talent going forward so we'll see how we gets on. He's highly-recommended and needs a kickstart after doing well in the last couple of years prior. The goalkeeper will join us after the Linfield game.

"It's up to them to prove themselves and we're happy that they are two players that are worth coming over. We've had many others looking to but again there's no point bringing so many over. We'll see how it plays out and if one or two more could join us too."

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