Grimsby Town manager Russell Slade says Cambridge United will pose a physical test to the Mariners in Sky Bet League Two this Saturday (3pm).
The U’s are unbeaten in three and 11th-placed in the league, and Slade says Shaun Derry’s side will present a strong challenge when they visit Blundell Park this weekend.
Speaking on iFollow Mariners, he said: “They hit diagonal balls into their two big strikers, Jabo Ibehre is very strong in the air.
“It’s difficult to know what shape he’ll come with, because he has changed a few times, he does like to play three in midfield but they’re a big, strong, physical side.
“We’ve watched some of the footage where they went a little bit tighter and stronger against Lincoln, got themselves a very good 0-0 draw there.
“They’ve changed a little bit as well, they’ve lost (Luke) Berry to Luton and the turnover of players in League Two does tend to be quite high.”
And the gaffer praised the team spirit and attitude of his Town squad as they aim to make it seven unbeaten in the league at the weekend.
“Partnerships are beginning to strengthen I feel. As an example, Summers (Luke Summerfield) and Bez (James Berrett) have not lost a game in seven.
“They’ve been a partnership seven times, they’ve not lost together so far, so touch wood that continues.
“That’s an improving side. The two centre-halves I think have looked very solid in recent weeks so we’re pleased with that.
“We’re back at home and we’ll do everything we can. One thing about this group is it’s developing into a strong team spirit with a strong attitude and it gives what it’s got, and you can’t ask for more than that.
“It’s just in that final third, we just need to create enough and get enough quality into areas where we can give ourselves, or somebody else, an opportunity of getting a goal.
“We’re gradually improving, and obviously we’ve just lost that one game in the nine,” he said.
Slade began his second spell as Town boss with a 2-1 home win over Cambridge in April, and he’s happy with the progress his side have made since then.
He said: “I think it’s a team that’s improved. Obviously the team that came up that season came up with huge momentum full of enthusiasm, but I think to move forward we needed to make those changes.
“And now we have to move forward again. It was a good game, I remember it well.
“It’s been very much a building process really. Lots of new faces since that game, dynamics of the team have changed.”
The boss also revealed that 19-year-old free agent left-back Jason Akiotu is training with the Mariners, following his appearance in the 2-0 reserves defeat to Mansfield Town earlier this month.
“He’s different to what we’ve got in that he’s quite explosive, quite pacy going forward, and he’s young – he’s only 19 as well.
“Under the rules he’s already had two (reserves) games so we will organise probably an extra game for him to play in.
“That’s the age group we’re looking at to make sure that we’ve got some good young players coming through, 19, 20, 21-year-olds to back-up so we’ve got something to work with.
“Reece (Hall-Johnson) has just recently gone out on-loan. He scored a great goal, I went to that game – Chester v Barrow. He scored a great goal from full-back and I was really pleased with his energy.
“It’s good for them when they do go out as well and get the football, it’s so important.
“I’ve ensured that with all those boys that go on-loan that we have a call-back in so on the 29th day we’ve got a 24-hour call-back,” he said.
Mitch Rose and Karleigh Osborne were back in training today, following their ankle and hamstring injuries respectively, and will both be assessed tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s game.
iFollow subscribers can watch the full interview (above).