Harrogate Town v Sheffield Wednesday: Four trialists set to feature in first pre-season friendly

Harrogate Town are likely to field as many as four trialists during their first pre-season friendly of the summer.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The League Two Sulphurites hosts League One heavyweights Sheffield Wednesday at the EnviroVent Stadium on Friday evening, 7pm kick-off.

Simon Weaver is in the process of overhauling his squad ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, and although he has already added eight new faces and handed academy prospect George Horbury a professional deal, he is still in the market for further reinforcements.

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Two unnamed wingers have been training with Town since they reported back for pre-season and joined them for their recent camp at Loughborough University, while another two players are expected to link up with the squad in time to play some part against the Owls.

Veteran centre-half Rory McArdle is still working his way back to fitness.Veteran centre-half Rory McArdle is still working his way back to fitness.
Veteran centre-half Rory McArdle is still working his way back to fitness.

“The two trialists we took to Loughborough with us have done well this week. They’re doing okay, they are workers and are putting themselves on the line,” Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“They’ll be involved against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday. It can become a bit farcical if you have too many trialists, but we need to have a look at these lads in a game.

“We still need to bring in a couple of players and these two are currently in pole position, but it’s how they do in the friendlies that goes a long way to making our minds up.

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“And there will be two more coming in to train with us on Thursday who should also be playing on Friday.”

On wanting to keep the identities of the trialists under wraps for the time being, Weaver added: “We’ve paid for them to come away with us this week, so we want to benefit from that by being in the best possible position to get a deal done if we decide that’s what we want to do further down the line.

“We don’t want other clubs coming to scout them and then we end up in a situation where we miss out on completing a deal at the last minute.

“We have to try and look after ourselves.”

Members of Town’s Under-18s academy side have also been training with the first-team squad this week and some of those youngsters could also play a part against Wednesday.

“One or two may be involved on Friday,” Weaver continued.

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“It’s important during these first couple of friendlies that we’re not asking anyone to play 90 minutes, so there will have to be a bit of rotation.

“We need to bring the lads up to speed gradually. We don’t want anyone picking up a knock or to bring on an injury because we ask them to do too much. That’s the last thing we want.

“And, at the same time, it can be a really good opportunity for some of these young lads to go up against very good League One players, test themselves and show us what they can do.”

As far as the Owls are concerned, Weaver is expecting a near-enough full-strength Wednesday squad to be turning up at Wetherby Road.

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“Sheffield Wednesday will be a huge test. They were right up there in the league last season and almost got promoted via the play-offs. It’ll be good to welcome them, a huge club with rich history. It should be a good occasion," he said.

“I would think that it will be pretty close to full-strength. I expect they’ll name 22 players the same as us and there will probably be a few younger lads in there who they want to have a good look at.

“We’ll do that, but we’re wanting to get minutes into the first-team players. They [Wednesday] are not playing a game anywhere else on Friday so I’m sure we’ll be playing against strong opposition.

“I expect it to be a decent game. Obviously there may well be some signs of rust because it’s the first game back, but you don’t get anything out of a match that’s played at a snail’s pace. We want to get the lads playing and up to speed.”

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While Friday will be Harrogate's first outing of pre-season, the Owls have already played one friendly, drawing 0-0 with National League North outfit Alfreton Town on Saturday.

That game saw Wednesday's senior outfield players handed 45-minute run-outs.

New recruits Will Vaulks and David Stockdale could make their first appearances at Wetherby Road prior to for Darren Moore's men heading out to Portugal for a week of warm-weather training.

As far as Town's team news is concerned, long-term casualty Will Smith (knee), skipper Josh Falkingham (foot) and veteran centre-half Rory McArdle (groin) will all miss out against Wednesday, though Weaver hopes the latter two will be able to take part in at least some of Town's pre-season fixtures.

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New signings Pete Jameson, Myles Welch-Hayes, Joe Mattock, Jaheim Headley, Kyle Ferguson, Josh Austerfield, Stephen Dooley and Matty Daly are all in line to play their first games for the Sulphurites.