Sport

Pride’s NPL tune-up boosted by Knights

Western Pride APL head coach Kasey Wehrman at the Ipswich Knights Football Ground.
Western Pride APL head coach Kasey Wehrman at the Ipswich Knights Football Ground. Claudia Baxter

WESTERN Pride coach Kasey Wehrman was a man on a mission as he put his new-look squad through its paces at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

Preparing for tonight's local derby with the Ipswich Knights, Wehrman was heavily involved on the field as he ran his players through a series of drills.

The former international player's technical experience was priceless, especially directing the young players in the Pride side preparing to debut in next month's historic National Premier League (formerly named the Australian Premier League).

Tonight's Silver Boot pre-season game at Richlands is Pride's third match together after earlier losses to Brisbane Premier League team Wolves (4-1) and NPL rivals Strikers (3-0). "We've got a few boys with some speed and so far they haven't impressed on scorelines but they've definitely impressed in long periods of games," Wehrman said.

"I'm more than impressed with the progress that they're making week in and week out.

"We're looking for a result now because we've played well enough to get a result."

While Wehrman's focus was on unifying his youth-laden side, new Knights coach Mark Dykman played down any prospect of a grudge match.

"I'm not looking at this game as an Ipswich Knights v Western Pride derby at all," the South African-born mentor said.

"This is a game in which we are brothers in our neighbourhood and that's how we are embracing it."

Like Pride, the Knights have lost their first two Silver Boot games - 8-0 to Strikers and 3-1 to Wolves.

With a dozen new players in the Knights squad, Dykman is keen to build combinations for the new BPL season starting next month. The Knights tackle Brisbane Force in their season opener on March 3.

"We've played well in patches and our fitness is getting better," Dykman said.

"Even though we've played well, we've lost so we've got to get our confidence up."

Dykman has been running "short, sharp and intense" training sessions at Bundamba on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

For former A-League player Wehrman, tonight's game offers another top match before the Pride's first NPL game against QAS on March 10.

"We're working on the relationship between the players and making sure they bond and the team is finding their own culture," the player/coach said.

The promising Pride players have been training on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights since December.

Topics:  kasey wehrman, npl, western pride football club



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