Hughes: First game a good test

By SFC Media time Wed 04 Jul Pre-season
Photo by Matt Watson | Mark Hughes

Southampton manager Mark Hughes expects to give the majority of his squad 45 minutes each in the opening pre-season match of the summer, as his team face FC Schalke tomorrow in China.

Saints kick-off their summer preparations with the game against last season's Bundesliga runners-up, at Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium (1pm BST).

Hughes, whose side will face Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning next week in their second match of the Club Super Cup friendly tournament, explained what he is looking for from the meeting with Schalke.

"It's a good test and one we're looking forward to," he said. "It's a little bit early in preparation, in terms of the time we've been able to have on the training ground, but it's the same for both teams.

"It's been a good trip up to this point. The pitch for the game itself will be fine and will play really well, I'm sure. The one thing you worry about a little bit is the weather, because it seems to be at nighttime that it gets a little bit wet and the rain is quite torrential, so hopefully we'll avoid that and we'll get a good quality game.

"It's clearly more a fitness issue at the moment, in terms of making sure we get up to speed as quickly as we can.

it's been really enjoyable. it's interesting from a life point of view.

mark hughes
on saints' time in china so far

"But, given we came in towards the end of last season, I certainly want to see some of the elements of what we worked on during that period to come to the fore very quickly in the games we have in pre-season.

"I think it's always good to get games under way as soon as possible – it's ok doing some practice drills and runs, but the only thing that really gets you fit is actually game time. 

"We've done a lot of work in terms of 11-v-11s already, and, with a bit of luck, the vast majority of the squad will get around 45 minutes each, so that's a good start for us."

Commenting on the trip to China so far, which is now in its fourth day, the Saints boss said: "We haven't had too much opportunity to see a lot of the country and to get to grips with the differences, but it is obviously a lot different and they do things in a certain way, and that's interesting from a life point of view and a life understanding.

"It's been really enjoyable. It's a long trip, but it hasn't really adversely affected us. We've recovered quite quickly from that. We're here for a number of days still, so we're going to enjoy it."

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