The most important thing is now that he [Neil Etheridge] gets better.Lee Bowyer
Saturday’s trip to the Jonny-Rocks Stadium is the first of five for Bowyer’s men ahead of the 2021/22 season beginning in August.
After visiting Gloucestershire, Blues host AFC Barrow, Oxford United and West Bromwich Albion, as well as visiting Northampton Town before their Sky Bet Championship opener at Sheffield United.
This follows a training camp in Scotland and further preparations at Wast Hills Training Ground where the boss joined members of the press - via Zoom - on Thursday afternoon to preview the Robins clash.
However, attention was understandably with matters off the field as Bowyer provided an update on Neil Etheridge, who is currently in hospital with Covid-19, whilst informing that the rest of the goalkeeping unit continue to test negative.
He said: “Neil, obviously, is not in a good state at the moment with Covid and he is in hospital. The most important thing is that from yesterday to today he has improved slightly and that’s all we can hope that he keeps doing.
“He is in good hands, we know how good the NHS are in the hospitals. Our Club Doctor is excellent as well and she is keeping on top of everything.
“I have spoken to them [Neil and his wife] and the most important thing is now that he gets better. I let him know we are all here thinking of him and supporting his family, and I said the same to his wife.”
The Gaffer went on to field questions about the weekend’s match and outlined how he will approach the pre-season schedule.
Bowyer explained: “It is our first game and we hope that we come through it unscathed. The score is not important to me, it is about getting the minutes, the fitness and, hopefully, no injuries.
“We need to get all the games and the minutes that we need under our belt to prepare for Sheffield United – that is the one that I am looking at.
“We are not in a bad place at the moment. At the end of last season, I didn’t think I needed to tweak too much. We lost a few players in the summer as every club does and I am trying to put my own little stamp on things.”
After speaking to both national and regional journalists, Bowyer also sat down with BluesTV. You can hear his thoughts ahead of facing Michael Duff’s side by watching the full interview below.