Fleet open their home set of friendlies against Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday with 180 minutes of football already under their belts following games at K Sports and Dartford.
And with a small squad currently at his disposal, Garry Hill is already managing the minutes he exposes some of his players to ahead of two tough matches in four days, as Charlton follow Spurs on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to get the balance right,” Hill said following the draw at Dartford. “We have to be very careful about what we do with them [in training] on Wednesday and Thursday with the games coming up next week. When you’re asking them to go a lot of minutes, you have to be careful.
“We’ve got two really hard-working competitive games coming up when you start talking about Tottenham on Saturday – they will move the ball, we’ll be chasing and chasing and then a lot of Charlton’s first team on the Tuesday.”
Of the Dartford game, it proved useful for the Fleet boss in terms of a fitness exercise and he was pleased to avoid defeat in a local derby, albeit a friendly.
“It was a good turnout by the fans and they’ve seen a little bit,” said Hill. “They’ve gone home in a local derby and it’s one apiece. Friendly or not, there’s still local bragging rights and you don’t want to get beat by your nearest neighbours. What we always ask for straight away is a good workout, no injuries and the boys have got some more minutes under their belt.”
Hill has so far utilised Academy players and trialists so as not to over-commit some of his first-teamers so early in July.
“We’d got some players who played 90 minutes at Dartford which is pushing it a little bit more than you probably want to do in the second game. But they are fit lads – when you look at Grimes, Ayo, Wilson and you look at Aswad Thomas, that’ll tell you straight away they’re fit boys, you can see that. Some of them have worked very hard in respect of getting 90 minutes.
“We’re building Kingy up into games. He had a little flush on his knee the other week but he had 45 minutes [at K Sports], then 60 at Dartford, Alex Lawless got 60 too.”
Alfie Egan was one of four trialists at Princes Park on Tuesday night and Academy striker Tahjae Anderson took his goals tally to two in as many games. And Hill wants them to do a little bit more than make up the numbers.
“We’ve had some of the Academy boys involved and they did a lot better at Dartford,” said the manager. “The lad up front, he’s shut it down [to score his goal] and he’s got two in two and that’s a bit of encouragement. You’ve got to give the boy credit up top.
“Zach Dainkeh’s very comfortable on the ball, too. They’re young kids but there might be a few that are good enough to progress in time. We can’t have players of National League quality just walking around in the squad not playing, those days have gone where you have seven of them in the stand.
“When you see players sometimes in friendly games, they’re like driving lessons – sometimes you have a good one, sometimes you have a bad one. But you try and give everybody a little run. It’s helped in respect of being able to take Kingy off and Alex Lawless and a few others at 60-odd minutes and give other players a little bit of confidence or a reward for coming training with us.”
Hill and Dave Archer have been in negotiations with players again this week but the Fleet manager insists it’s a patience game.
“We’re going in the right direction, there’s still three weeks,” he said. “That’s a long time in football and all of a sudden you get a couple of phone calls, they go your way and you go wow, you get a couple of good signings in. It really is like that, it was always going to be the case this summer. But the attitude and commitment of the players we have got and management staff at training and matchdays is in the right direction and that’s all you can hope for.”