Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley says the pre-season trip to Holland serves a triple purpose as a bonding exercise, an intense fitness camp and a taste of the European passing philosophy.
Town’s 25-man first-team squad and development squad prospects flew out on Saturday and are set to face Fortuna Sittard tonight before playing Dutch top-division side AZ Alkmaar – club technical director Gretar Steinsson’s former team – tomorrow.
The tour will conclude on Saturday, with Roda JC Kerkrade the final opposition.
Pressley says he picked Holland because Dutch teams have a passing philosophy and will force his men to work hard off the ball, like they did in the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool last Wednesday.
But the ex-Scotland defender does not want Town to take their foot off the gas when they return to home soil, and he has scheduled games against high-tempo, “British-style”, physical sides, such as Southport (away on Tuesday July 26), Gateshead (away on Wednesday July 27) and Wigan (home on Friday July 29), so that his players are in peak physical shape to start the season on August 6 at Northampton
Pressley said: “When you go to Holland you will play teams who really pass the ball and really play, so it works your team really hard when you are out of possession. It also works your defensive structure really hard.
“Players have to cover a lot of yardage to defend properly against that type of formation, so it is a really good exercise in terms of improving the players’ levels of fitness and improving the shape of the team.
“And then when we come back I want to play British- style teams, so you get the fitness of the Holland trip and then the ootball that we are used to at home. The idea is to get the blend of the two.
“I did this at Coventry before the 2013-14 campaign) and we really hit the ground running that season. The players were super-fit and I want to go about it in a similar manner. I think we can really push the players to their limits.
“I know that quite a number of teams go to Scotland, but I just feel that for what I want to get out of the early pre-season games Holland ticks those boxes.”
Pressley intends to split the two opening games into 60/30-minute games for the players and go back to 45 minutes halves on Saturday.
Pressley said: “The three games will allow us to build the players up from the Salford game, where they played 45 minutes each.
“We do a lot of work on the training ground, not only on fitness but on a lot of other things like shape and set-pieces. The trip allows players to bond and really develop the feelgood factor we have around the group.”
Striker Aaron Holloway trained for the first time with Town yesterday.
The remainder of the development squad make the short trip to face Squires Gate tonight at 7.30pm.