OK, Pards since you asked for advice here it is. I have it on good authority that these pre-season games are not just about getting fit and finding our best formation. You know yourself that morale and belief in the side is much more useful. A winning side wins, it becomes habit-forming and with such a good pre-season run behind us we need to continue the winning. So lets forget the idea about putting out our best formation ready for Swansea, 'cause if you don't know our best lineup now with so many departed and unavailable you never will. Even Missus Nelson could tell you.
So this Bilbao lot. To tell the truth I'm a bit worried about your midfield come Saturday. These Basque boys are no world beaters but they're no chumps either. They're got a few useful players and we need to plan the game tomorrow just as you would all those future fizzy games.
Apart from a couple of useful wide men, Etxeberria on the right and Lopez on the left they have a choice of Orbaiz, Iraola, Gurpegui, Javi Martinez, Gabilondo and Yeste for the middle of the park. They'll play with the usual 4 at the back, with a lone striker and put 5 across the middle. One of these is usually a wide men Etxeberria or sometimes Lopez, and if its a best eleven they're putting out then 4 of the above 6 midfielders.
So with the treatment table already overflowing with Weaver, Holland, Ambrose, Todorov, Dickson, McLeod and Arter its imperative that we use some creative ideas to get a result tomorrow. Move Moutaouakil to right-back and put Semedo in his holding role, play only one wide man - Thomas on the left and persuade him to help out Youga if Extebarria plays - and put someone else in the middle to help out last weekends midfield Shelvey and Racon. Put in Basey, Sinclair or even Josh Wright.
Last season it was 1-2 to Braga, Dowie didn't bother with one in 2006 and Curbs bowed out with a 1-3 loss to AEK Athens. So it's been 4 years now since we won one of these fixtures, 3-1 to Chievo Verona.
So Pards. For the first half, Christie; Moutaouakil, Hudson, Fortune, Youga; Racon, Semedo, Shelvey, Basey, Thomas; Gray and then when they replace all their stars in the second half you can bring out Varney, Fleetwood and Wagstaff to get the win.