John Coleman is ready for his side to step up a gear as they take on Championship side Middlesbrough in their next pre-season friendly on Saturday (3pm).
The Reds have beaten a range of opposition from Premier League side Huddersfield, to non-league Hyde United and Shelley FC and they lost to a Blackburn Rovers Under 23 side in a behind-closed-doors match this week.
Coleman is pleased his squad is testing themselves and knows Middlesbrough is another step to getting ready for the League One opener on August 4th.
“It is another good test for us. We acquitted ourselves well against Huddersfield on Saturday and played a behind-closed-door game against Blackburn Under 23s who were too good for us on Tuesday afternoon.
“We split the squad and then sent the rest to Hyde on Tuesday night which was a good work-out. We are playing games at different levels, with different intensities to make sure we are in optimum condition for the Gillingham game.”
Coleman is delighted Erico Sousa and Mark Hughes have signed new deals.
“Erico was outstanding against Hyde and scored two great goals, he is a good player and is keen to force himself into the side.
“Mark Hughes did well last season and deserves the recognition of a new contract. He has come back fitter than he was last season and that can only bode well for us.”
Coleman admits it’s a busy time for him as he looks to get another goalkeeper on board with only Jonny Maxted a recognised first team stopper.
“It is hard as teams higher up want to keep their players as long as possible, which doesn’t make my job any easier.
“I spent five hours on the phone yesterday but we need players who will fit into our team, we need the right ones.”
Coleman will make a decision on the small number of trialists he has at the club this week.
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