David Unsworth says he is expecting a tough test when his Under-21s side travel to Bohemians on Wednesday evening.
The FA Cup-winning former defender has selected a 21-man squad to travel across the Irish Sea to take part in two friendlies and a week-long training camp in Dublin.
And Unsworth has been pleased with the young Blues’ start to pre-season as they work towards the beginning of their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on 10 August.
“We’re hoping to get even more fitness while we’re here and there are two really tough games as well,” he told evertontv.
“We’ll be doing two or three sessions every day which will ask questions of the players. We’ve stepped it up a little bit now and the boys are looking good.
“Hopefully we can work on one or two things building up towards the games at the start of the season, in terms of our team shape and the things we want to try to implement.”
The Under-21s first travel to Dalymount Park to face Bohemians tomorrow evening, before a trip north to face Glenavon on Saturday afternoon.
Looking ahead to their third official pre-season fixture - and first on Irish soil - Unsworth says he is expecting to be pushed to the limit against Bohs.
“We’re expecting a really difficult game, they’re a tough team and our contacts over here have been really impressed with them,” added Unsworth. “They will pose a really stern test for our players, but we will give them a test as well, so I’m looking forward to the game.
“It’s a good opportunity to get some more minutes under the belts of the more senior players who will probably be with us all season.
‘We can start upping things now to 60-75 minutes and I’m looking to seeing them in action.”