Sheffield United: Malaga friendly ‘will be big step up’

Alan Knill with Blades boss Chris Wilder
Alan Knill with Blades boss Chris Wilder
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Alan Knill admits Friday’s friendly against Malaga will prove a huge test for Sheffield United.

Chris Wilder’s side face the Primera División club in Coín later this week after beginning their pre-season preparations with a 9-0 rout of Stocksbridge Park Steels.

With Spanish teams not scheduled to return to action until August 11 - a week after the new Championship campaign begins - José Miguel González Martín del Campo’s squad has only just resumed training after a near two month break.

But Knill, United’s assistant manager, acknowledged: “With all due respect, it’s going to be a big step up for us.

“They’re a really good team with really good players and we know we’ll have to be right at it.

“Hopefully, they won’t be because of where they are in terms of their own plans. But, joking aside, it’s going to be a really good experience.”

United’s players flew-out to Marbella for warm-weather training on Monday and will hold and open session for supporters tomorrow.

“Coming away is absolutely invaluable, especially at this time of year,” Knill said. “It really brings everyone closer together and you can’t put a price on that. We let the lads have some free-time but that’s free-time together. They stay as one big group which I think is good. Everyone knows we place a big emphasis on that. It’s good to see and, seriously, it really does help.

“It’s hot out here but we don’t make any allowances for that. It’s training and it’s work so we do the same things we do in Sheffield. You just have to acclimatise pretty fast.”

Wilder and Knill, who oversaw their first session at the Marbella Football Centre yesterday, plan to use their own downtime to gain an insight into how La Liga clubs, and Malaga in particular, whip themselves into shape.

“We’ve spoken to a few people and hopefully we’ll be able to go and see them train before the fixture,” Knill added.

“It will be interesting to see how they do things and, by then, we’ll have a better idea how we are going to go about the match ourselves and exactly who us going to be involved.

“We might be able to pick up a few ideas and, who knows, we might be able to pass a few on to them as well.”

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