Major League Soccer

Phil Neville reflects on Inter Miami's final pre-season friendly ahead of new MLS season

Tom Gott
Apr 12, 2021, 3:15 PM GMT+1
Phil Neville watched his Inter Miami side in one final friendly
Phil Neville watched his Inter Miami side in one final friendly | Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Inter Miami manager Phil Neville has confessed he hopes his side's final in-house friendly will have given the team the fitness boost they need ahead of the season opener against LA Galaxy on Sunday.

The club cancelled four pre-season friendlies in recent weeks for various reasons, including scheduling conflicts and COVID-19 concerns, and they are set to start the new season without playing a friendly against a single MLS opponent.

Their final warm-up game came in the form of an intra-squad friendly on Sunday, in which a team of projected starters came up against a reserve side which also featured Neville's son Harvey, who is on the books at Manchester United but was given permission by the club to join in.

After the game, Neville revealed to the Miami Herald that he was glad to see his players take one step closer to full fitness.

“It was more about the physical side than what I saw from a technical point of view,” Neville said of the game. “I wanted them to get 90 minutes under the belt.

"It’s no secret that we’ve had pretty bad luck with games being cancelled, so I wanted to get 90 minutes in their legs. That was the main focus, because I don’t want us to get in the game next week and be short physically.

“Ultimately, we’ll find out next Sunday how ready physically we are,” he said. “The situation’s been out of our hands, we’ve tried to be positive about it, and it’s not an excuse. We are ready to play LA Galaxy, and physically fit enough to play them.”

Among the more noteworthy takeaways from the game was Neville's use of 2020 first overall pick Robbie Robinson. Predominantly a striker, the 22-year-old was deployed on the left wing in a forward line which also featured Gonzalo Higuain, Lewis Morgan and the midfield compliments of Rodolfo Pizarro.

“Robbie’s had a fantastic preseason,” Neville said. “One thing I identified really early is we need more goals, so what Robbie provides us is a real attacking threat down that left-hand side.

"The combinations of Rodolfo dropping in sometimes and Robbie going higher and Gonzalo sometimes dropping in, we have really good combinations with Lewis playing a little wider on that right-hand side.

“I’m super pleased with both Robbie and Rodolfo, who is a big game player and as we’re getting closer to the games, I see him dialling it up a little bit.”

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