Defender Danny Grainger spoke to us about Tuesday night’s friendly at Barrow, hard work to be done and the trip to Frenchfield Park on Saturday – a game he’s very much looking forward to.
“It was good to get the cobwebs blown off at Barrow,” he admitted. “We’re still only ten days or so into pre-season so it was nice to get our fitness levels back up. It’s always different when you go into games than it is being on the training pitch. We’ve been working hard in training fitness wise and last night [Tuesday] was another fitness thing.
“We were obviously disappointed to lose the game. With the ball we weren’t as clinical as we can be, but the first pre-season game is always the one where you blow the cobwebs off and get used to the tempo of things again. I think Barrow were back for pre-season a couple of weeks before us, so they were ahead of us on that side of things.”
“We haven’t spent any time on the training ground yet where the manager has nailed down the way he wants us to play or anything like that, it’s just been fitness based,” he added. “Once he starts nailing that sort of stuff down I’m sure it will come together quite quickly.
“These games are all about getting used to how each other plays and seeing how the new lads fit into the systems the manager wants us to use. There isn’t a lot to read into the Barrow game. Obviously it’s disappointing that we conceded three goals, but it was mainly about fitness for us.
“Moving forward I’m sure the performances will start picking up towards the end of pre-season. We’ve got Saturday-Tuesday games now throughout the rest of pre-season and that’s where things will really start to step up.
“Training fitness is different to match sharpness, so we’ll be able to improve both of those. We’ll also start working on shape with the manager and he’ll tell us how he wants us to play and what he expects in certain areas. All that will get nailed down because we’re still along way from Exeter away. We’ve still got a lot of preparation to do and hard work to put in before then.”
“I’m more than confident that we’ll be ready by the time the Exeter game comes around,” he insisted. “The gaffer has said that he wants three or four new players still to come in and I agree with that because I think we’re still a little bit light.
“To be competitive in this league you need a good squad, it isn’t just about 11 players. I know the manager will go and recruit well and strengthen us.
“For all of us July is about getting ready for Exeter. There’s no point in us being ready now when Exeter is still four weeks away. We know players are still going to come in which will be a challenge for us all, the gaffer has come across most of us before, but he’s only managed a couple of us before.
“He wants competition in every position so everyone is going to have to work hard. We’re all looking forward to coming into training on a daily basis which means you work harder and the competitive edge is there.”
On how different things are under the new manager, he said: “There are always different things to do under different managers. I obviously worked with Keith [Curle] for the majority of my time here and I didn’t get a lot of time with Kav [Graham Kavanagh].
“The gaffer has come in and I’m really enjoying the way he works. It seems to be a really good way to do things and hopefully that will bode well for a successful season.
“We know the league will be tough this year. It’s probably going to be the toughest it’s been for the last few years. With the likes of MK Dons coming down there’ll be some big squads in the league, so we know we need to be really competitive.
“There are a few teams who have recruited well with players who have been in our league and done well before.”
“The manager has said it, but people should hate coming to Brunton Park,” he said. “We’ve got a big pitch and it’s a long way for most teams to travel.
“I’d love to be sat in Exeter right now waiting for the first game of the season, but pre-season is all about getting fit and making sure you’re ready for that game. The manager knows he’s got work to do and he’s told us there will be hard work ahead, but we’re all looking forward to.”
Next up for the Blues is the short trip to Frenchfield Park on Saturday.
“I do always enjoy playing at Penrith,” he commented. “It’s obviously the club I lived closest to when I lived with my Mam and Dad. I often pop back and watch them and I’ve got a good affiliation with them through my academy.
“They’re great with me and I do look forward to going there. I’ve got a lot of friends who play and work there so it will be nice to go there on Saturday.”
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