AFC Telford United Ladies manager Darel Poole has praised the pre-season attitude of her players, after they returned to competitive action this weekend.
The Bucks were beaten by West Midlands Premier outfit Solihull in a friendly at Oakengates yesterday, but Poole says the abrupt manner in which last season ended and a frustrating lock-down summer has left her players raring to go ahead of a potential return to league action next month.
“The ladies are setting their standards really high at the moment and long may that continue,” she said.
“It’s been quite challenging because we’re having to use five-a-side cages instead of 11-a-side pitches so we’re quite limited with facilities at the moment.
“Having said that, there’s other outcomes that are really positive in terms of the rapport and the atmosphere around training. It’s absolutely brilliant already, probably the best I’ve seen it in a pre-season and we’re only two or three weeks in.
“People have got a smile on their face and as much as pre-season can be a tricky time for players in terms of expectations, they were so keen to be back they’ve welcomed that physicality and that challenge. Having that positive atmosphere in training means that Alex and I can push for a bit more, and that’s what we’re doing already.”
Poole’s charges looked set for a top-four finish last season, only to see their campaign brought to an early close by the outbreak of Coronavirus, which saw all games null-and-voided. But this season the Bucks boss believes her side can build on that momentum and push for a top-two spot, and promotion to tier 5.
“The players that have stayed are the ones that we wanted to stay which means that we’re setting the correct environment where players want to play for us. The other pleasing thing is that the players that we have recruited are really talented and they’re coming to the football club because they’ve heard it’s a good environment, and that players improve and get given the right opportunities to play the right type of football here,” she added.
“For myself and staff that’s really pleasing, because when I took over that was the main thing I wanted to achieve. I wanted to set an environment where players anted to be here and in the long run I think that will pay dividends.”