Break has given players a chance to rest - Smith

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Stevenage boss also hopes to add ‘one or two’ players before end of transfer window

With a white blanket still covering much of the country, Stevenage boss Gary Smith admits that the recent wintery weather has been far from ideal for his side.

Boro will have gone three weeks without a competitive fixture when they face Leyton Orient next weekend, and with the majority of clubs’ training pitches still unplayable, keeping sharp hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been a little bit difficult, the weather, both early mornings and of course frozen pitches, there’s still snow covering most of them as well,” said Smith.

“It’s been hard to get any real continuity to the work. But what we’ve been able to do, given the schedule that we’ve got, is give some of the players the opportunity to rest some weary legs.

“There have been four or five players that have been carrying knocks that have been taken completely out of the training group and the rest of the guys have got through some decent work, but probably more general work than we’d normally go through.”

After last Saturday’s game against Bury fell victim to the weather and with this weekend’s opponents Brentford in FA Cup action, Smith revealed that the team would play at least one practice match at the start of next week in an effort to restore some much needed match sharpness.

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It is believed that Queens Park Rangers’ development squad will provide the opposition.

“What we’ve planned to do is, at the start of next week, really get a good build up into Leyton Orient, and that’ll include certainly one game for the first team and possibly a second squad game so everyone can feel a little bit better about themselves.

“One or two of the lads will get a bit edgy and twitchy that they’ve not played any football but as long as there’s a plan of action [we’ll be alright].”

Smith has already added strikers Sam Hoskins and Steve Beleck to his squad and with over a week left until the transfer window closes, the manager is optimistic about adding further new faces.

“I would hope there’s one or two other players that we might be able to add to the group but it’s, as always, down to the right circumstances and opportunities.

“Finding players that are going to improve the group, strengthen us in the right areas, and of course as always getting the right deal done is of paramount importance to us.

“My hope is that we can do that but there are plenty of bridges to cross to get that done so we’ll keep working hard on that.”

After loyal Boro fans helped clear the pitch at both the Lamex and at the club training ground, Smith had a message of thanks for the supporters that had swapped their slippers for wellies on Tuesday afternoon: “It’s a real important time, it’s not easy to keep the pitches in real good working order and I know John the groundsman will be absolutely delighted that he’s had that help to clear the pitch and get it back in some good working order.

“As always it’s a real pleasure to see some bodies down there and wanting to be part and parcel of what is a family club.”