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Wilder: Oxford United will last the course
CHRIS Wilder visited Premier League champions Manchester City this summer as part of Oxford United’s new sports science plans for the new season.
The U’s boss viewed the methods used by Roberto Mancini’s backroom staff to look for areas to improve the squad’s chance in npower League Two.
On Friday, United owner and executive chairman Ian Lenagan revealed a six-figure sum had been invested to give the players better preparation than anyone else in the division.
It has included bringing in Alasdair Lane as a full-time strength and conditioning coach.
Wilder’s research took him to rugby league giants Wigan Warriors, who are also owned by Lenagan, to gain a better understanding.
“It’s an area a lot of clubs are looking into, some are ahead of others,” he said.
“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re like a few clubs in this league and we’re signing players left, right and centre, that’s not the way we’ve rolled.
“My job will be to improve the players we have in the building and get more out of them, which I’m sure we can.
“For me, we’re not a million miles off from how the big boys roll.
“Obviously, their facilities are a lot better and they have a lot more staff, but the principles are the same.
“We need to make sure we’ve got fit, robust players that last the course.”
The new system is aimed at significantly reducing the number of injuries, which played a key role in the U’s missing out on the play-offs last season.
Several senior players are still struggling, but Wilder had some good news over the weekend.
Lenagan revealed last week Andy Whing needed an operation on a groin injury which would keep him out for three months.
But it is now believed the midfielder will not need to go under the knife, although he is still some way off being fully fit.
It is hoped all the players will benefit in the long-term from the new regime.
Wilder said: “There will be some notable differences from last season in terms of the structure of the days.
“I think we need to lift everybody in all aspects of the game – tactically, technically, physically and mentally.
“We’re putting things in place to raise the bar and if they can all raise the bar on those aspects then I’m sure we can go better than we did last year.”
United supporters got their first chance to see Wilder’s summer signings at the club’s open day on Saturday.
The U’s kick-off their pre-season schedule tomorrow night, when West Ham visit the Kassam Stadium (7.45).
l WHICH player did outgoing United chairman Kelvin Thomas feel was the most significent signing he made while in charge? See Page 34 to find out.