Buckley content with pre-season games

Sligo Rovers manager Liam Buckley has said last night’s friendly with Athlone Town was a good workout for his players, believing conditioning is vital as the management try to prepare the players for the start of the league season.

The Rovers boss oversaw the fourth pre-season game last night in The Showgrounds.

Rovers remain unbeaten, with two wins and two draws, but as Buckley points out, the point of the games is all preparation for Saturday 20 March against Dundalk.

Speaking to www.sligorovers.com, he said: “It’s not results that count in the games. These games are conditioning sessions realistically.

“The four games we have had have all been good from that point of view.

“I’m happy with the players who have been able to play all the minutes we wanted. There are some who haven’t been able to do that whether arriving a bit later or a niggle, it’s a matter of getting them up to speed as soon as we can.

“Fitness is the important aspect of the games and organisation as well. All of the games will stand to us.

Romeo Parkes made a first appearance of pre-season last night

“We’ve had one or two disruptions with little injuries but also others have come through it all. We have one more game to come which will help.”

Buckley said goalkeeper Richard Brush will return to the squad next week after picking up a finger injury in training.

Ryan De Vries is also set to join the squad in the coming days after the birth of his second child last month.

Elsewhere the academy players have formed a large part of the squad so far. Johnny Kenny has been the top scorer in pre-season with four goals.

Cillian Heaney and Jason Devaney are the latest to play first-team football.

Mark Byrne also impressed during the second half last night.

Buckley added: “They’ve all been good additions, I’m sure the supporters saw that last night. They will take time and it is important to remember that.

“Johnny Kenny has done particularly well and I have no doubt he will go on to play for us this season.

“But we’re not going to put stupid pressure on these players. They’re part of the squad and they are all making a contribution and adding competition as well.”

Buckley remains in the mix for further squad additions.

Friday is the final pre-season game as Rovers take on Shelbourne in Dublin.

He concluded: “It’s a good game to finish with. Shels have signed well and it’s a good surface in Abbotstown. The focus is on Saturday week against Dundalk and getting the players right for that game.”