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Interviews

INTERVIEW: I can't wait to get going again

Gary Liddle looks ahead to the start of pre-season

26 June 2018

We caught up with defender Gary Liddle this week to get his thoughts on the recently released fixtures and the fast approaching start of pre-season.

“Once the season finishes everyone tends to go away on holiday and recharge the batteries after a long ten months," he told us. "When the fixtures come out it does start getting more exciting because you look at who we’re playing on key dates and things like that.

“It is exciting because it really brings it all into focus and you can look at who you’re playing in the first game, over Christmas and at other times during the year.

"It’s exciting for the players but also the fans. It's been a strange summer with having to wait for the news of the new manager and players, but that's started ticking over now so the fixtures help to whet the appetite even more."

On the close season break, he said: “It’s always nice to have a break, especially at my age! I’ve just turned 32, which isn’t too old, but you do need your summer break to rest. I’ve been used to playing a lot of games throughout my career, so I know that any rest you can get is important for your body. I’m feeling fresh at the moment and I’m back into the fitness side of things already.

“Obviously we’ve got a new manager and coach so it’s all change at the football club. There's new players and it’s always nice to get to know them and make sure they’re all bedded in. That’s another key part of pre-season, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again and meeting the new lads who come in."

“The gaffer isn’t someone I’ve worked with before," he confirmed. "I’ve played against his teams a few times but I don’t think I've done that for a couple of years now.

"I’ve spoken to players who've worked with him and they’ve said good things, and he’s got a good record across his career. He did a great job in keeping Fleetwood up last season and I think a few people were surprised he didn’t get that job permanently. He’s here now and I think it’s positive for our club to be able to attract a manager of his calibre.

“I’m looking forward to working with him. He’ll bring new ideas and a new way of playing, and hopefully it will be a successful season for everyone. Whether we were here last season or not, all of the lads will start with a clean slate.

"The gaffer will want to take a good look at everyone, we’ve lost a few players over the summer, and I’m sure he’ll keep bringing more of his own players in to add to what we’ve already got."

“Pre-season will be important," he told us. "We’ve got a number of friendlies already lined up and they will be a good indication to see what the gaffer wants to do, and how he sees each player fitting into the team.

“I played with Muzza [Paul Murray] at Hartlepool. I think I was in my mid-20s at the time and he was at the other end of the scale. I actually played beside him in midfield and I’m sure I did all of his running for him!

"He’s a good guy, he had a taste of management at Hartlepool and Barrow which didn’t work out the way he wanted, but he’s worked himself back into it. By all accounts he’s done a great job at Fleetwood with their young lads, so it’s a great appointment.

"The manager will obviously know him from his time at Fleetwood and he’s someone who has got a good affiliation with this football club, which I think is important."

“I’m sure there will be quite a few signings being made in the next couple of weeks and as players we’ll be checking the website just as much as the fans," he admitted. "It’s always interesting and exciting to see who comes in.

"Gary Miller, Macaulay Gillesphey and George Glendon are three great starts to that and that's an indication of the direction the manager wants us to take. There'll be real competition for places and that's good for everyone."

On what he wants from next season, he told us: “I’ve played a lot of games in my career and I'd like to think I could play a lot more, especially after getting to know Clint [Hill] and seeing the way he goes about his business.

"I’ve seen that up close over the last 12 months, and the likes of myself and Danny [Grainger] are two of the most senior players at the football club now. If we can take some of the advice Clint gave us and pass that on then we won’t go far wrong.

"We’ve also got young lads who have been given professional contracts who will be with us day in day out now, and it’ll be important for them to understand how a first team structure works, and how to handle themselves around a first team squad."

“If I could get to 600 career appearances this season that would be great," he said. "That’s my aim. I’m feeling fit and I think the position I’m playing in now is helping, because I don’t have to do as much running as I used to!

"I’ve had a good rest and I’m looking forward to another League Two campaign. I want to try and stay fit all season. I’ve been very lucky with that during my career, I’ve only had very limited injuries which maybe keep me out for a couple of weeks maximum.

"I’ve managed to stay clear of serious injuries, so if I can do that again and play as many games as I did last season I’ll be very happy. We’ll all be working hard to get in the team, then stay there, but hopefully I can become an important player for the manager and show my experience."

And with the new management team openly talking about promotion, he commented: “The gaffer has said in his interviews that he thinks we’re better than League Two and that's nice to hear.

"We’ve said that for the last couple of years but we’ve come up short. It’s all change now, we’ll have a new squad and it’ll be about bedding those new players in as quickly as possible and getting used to each other.

“League Two isn’t always the strongest league. A lot of the teams are on an even keel and the teams who are consistent find themselves at the top of the table. During the first half of last season we were hit and miss, and it wasn’t until the second half where we started to hit a bit of form.

"If we can find the consistency early doors, then stick to it and get a good run going, we won’t go far wrong."

"I'm just looking forward to getting back now and I've already upped my fitness work," he concluded. “We were all given programmes to do over the summer to make sure we were doing the right things.

"You obviously get a couple of weeks at the start of the summer which are total rest, but since the middle of May I’ve been back on it.

"Although Lee Fearn left at the end of the season he was good enough to put those programmes together for us, which was great. It’s important that you come back for pre-season fit - gone are the days when you could come back a bit overweight.

"I’m sure all the lads will come back fit and ready and I can’t wait to get going again.”


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