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Pre-season Round-Up: Twitter takeovers, tours, and team bonding

A look at how some EFL clubs have been stepping up their 2018/19 preparations

13 July 2018

With the start of the new football season less than a month away, pre-season plans for clubs across the EFL are well under way, as squads travel across the UK and beyond to be put through their paces.

Oxford United continued their pre-season tour in Ireland on Monday with a 5-1 victory against Longford Town, but some may have noticed a change in the U’s matchday commentary.

Rob Hall, a popular midfielder at the Kassam Stadium, was let loose on the club’s official Twitter account to provide, in a rather unorthodox fashion, a live text commentary of the U’s friendly.

The 24-year-old was unable to feature in Oxford’s second match due to injury, but still made his mark off the pitch, with many fans calling for Hall to take over Twitter every week.

Meanwhile, with most teams going on tour for matches and training camps, some clubs have also found time to fit a few creative team bonding sessions into their busy pre-season schedules.

Wycombe Wanderers headed to Wales for a three-day training camp that included an array of orienteering challenges on the first day, before watching the World Cup action.

Meanwhile, Birmingham City and Middlesbrough took a day out of their training programmes to go white water rafting in Haiming and to the Gesause National Park respectively, both in Austria.

Middlesbrough, who play in Germany on Saturday, finished their 10-day stay in Austria with a friendly against Sturm Graz, losing 1-0, before defeating Spennymoor 2-0 on their return home. 

Austria has proved a popular destination, with Rotherham United returning there for the second successive season. Boss Paul Warne will be hoping the trip will have a similar effect to the 2017/18 campaign, which saw them promoted to the Championship via the Play-Offs.

Back in England, Bristol City manager Lee Johnson maintained bragging rights over his father Gary, as the Robins beat Johnson Senior's Cheltenham Town for a third successive year.

Newly promoted League Two side, Tranmere Rovers, kickstarted their pre-season friendlies with a narrow 3-2 loss to Premier League outfit Liverpool, while two other sides back in the EFL met in a behind-closed-doors friendly – Championship side Stoke City seeing off National League champions Macclesfield Town by five goals to two.

Debutant Benik Afobe was one of five different forwards on the scoresheet, a statistic that pleased boss Gary Rowett.

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