Mansfield Town head off to Portugal tomorrow for a week-long training camp, culminating with a friendly with Dundee on Saturday, 7th July.
Manager David Flitcroft sees the week as a great chance to bond and assess how close his U21s are to chasing a first team place.
“The Portugal trip will tell us everything,” he said. “It will give me a great insight into our U21s and see statistically and physically where they are with the first team.
“Then there’s the camaraderie in terms of bringing those 21s with the first team – who stands out? Who is a good socialiser?
“It’s really important and once we’ve gauged that we can get balanced teams for the other games.
“Some pre-season games will be top-ups. We may play 11 players on the Saturday and then on the Tuesday make sure we get the numbers into the others.
“It’s all about getting minutes and it’s something that, as pre-season progresses, can change due to injuries or numbers coming in or out. We don’t have a definitive plan now.”
He added: “Our pre-season schedule is full now. We’ve got some non-League games plus some fantastic opponents in terms of stature.
“The Rotherham game has been designed to really get us ready. With them getting promoted and the feelgood factor, hopefully there will be a good travelling support come to visit us. But that will replicate a really tough test for us. The quality we have coming to us in those other games is phenomenal.
“What we’ve found pre-season in the past is that when you play the non-League teams you get a different riser when you play the top Championship and sometimes Premiership teams and your stats go through the roof. That’s what we’re hoping for in those games.
“We sat down with John Dempster, Coops (Richard Cooper) and Mike Whitlow and designed it.”