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Hendon boss McCann plots victory over young QPR XI in his testimonial

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 July 2015

Hendon boss Gary McCann. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Hendon boss Gary McCann. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Archant

Hendon boss Gary McCann will celebrate 10 years in charge of Hendon with a testimonial match against a QPR XI tomorrow evening – and he will be disappointed if his team fail to beat the Rs.

The match, which kicks off at 7.30pm on Tuesday at Earlsmead, was organised thanks to McCann’s friendship with QPR’s new first-team coach Steve Gallen, after their time playing together for the Dons.

The Rangers team will be managed by Paul Hall, who is now the development manager for the Hoops, and he is expected to bring along a youthful squad including Ireland Under-19 international Ryan Manning and Axel Prohouly, a summer signing from Monaco.

McCann’s squad contains new goalkeeper Joe Wright, Ollie Sprague and Aaron Morgan, who were part of the QPR youth team set-up before being released – and Scott Shulton, who has recently rejoined the club and was a coach in the Rs’ academy until recently.

“It’s great that Steve was able to help arrange the game,” said McCann. “It was before he got his promotion to first-team coach. I’m hoping he will still be able to come down. He is an old friend who played a few first-team games for Hendon.

“It seems like QPR are taking a more sensible approach now – promoting Steve shows that. If they are wanting to bring youngsters through from the academy to the first team then there is no better man for that job.

“It will be a good test for us. We will have a few pre-season matches already under our belt before they arrive and I will be disappointed if we don’t win the game. I would like to think that the team contains the quality, experience and game management skills to beat a QPR Under-21 side.

“I’m sure their players will want to make a good impression, knowing they’ve got a good chance of breaking into the first-team squad if they impress, so it will make for a decent match.

“It will also be a ‘pay what you want’ match – so if everyone wants to drop in £100 that will be great!” McCann joked.

Hendon suffered heartbreak in the Ryman League play-off final in May, when they lost 1-0 against Margate after Morgan was sent off early on for an innocuous challenge.

But, as the Greens build up to their first league fixture of the new campaign, away at Grays Athletic on Saturday August 8, McCann is pleased with the attitude and application in his squad and has high hopes for the campaign.

“The play-off defeat is still a little bit raw,” he said. “As a group we feel there is unfinished business and we will be carrying that mindset into the league this season.

“Aaron Morgan looks more focused, I would be amazed if he doesn’t score 20-plus goals this season.

“Ollie Sprague was being looked at by Football League teams last season. Unfortunately he picked up an ankle injury which disrupted his progress, but if he can stay injury-free then he is one that I see getting into the England C team, like Charlie Goode did before joining Scunthorpe.

“The fitness levels of the players are incredible. It isn’t like the old days where your centre-half turns up for training carrying a lot of extra weight and you have to run him into the ground to get him fit.

“A lot of players now will go to the gym during the off-season and when they get back for training it is a case of getting fitter, not getting fit.”

McCann is pleased with how his squad is shaping up, with the majority of last season’s players back on board for the new campaign, and he will be reluctant to ask Football League teams for players on loan.

“We’ve been there and done that,” he said. “You hear all the right things from the sides looking to get them out and they are ok for the first few weeks, but as the loan progresses a lot tend not to fancy it so much.

“They might not be used to getting dropped, or they have a look at the Earlsmead pitch and it doesn’t look like the surface they have been used to in an academy.

“We need to make sure all players are mentally committed. The character of the player, along with their ability, is what counts.”

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