Temperatures reached ‘fry your eggs on the tarmac’ levels in Cumbria yesterday as the county was hit by a heatwave which saw anybody with any sense duck under the shade and crack open a tin of their preferred cold drink.
But that wasn’t the case for the United squad as they found it to be business as usual with another tough training session ahead of their trip to the north of Scotland this weekend.
“Thankfully we trained a touch earlier because of a PFA meeting which the players had in the afternoon,” he said. “That helped, because we didn’t quite hit the hottest of the temperatures, but it was still a very hot and intense session.
“The good thing is that the players will get a lot of benefit from that. A Thursday leading up to a Saturday game would normally be a tactical session, with a limited degree of load on the players, but we aren’t doing things that way just now.
“They’re training really hard, even though we have the game against Ross County on Saturday, because we still have our eye on that first game of the season. Training in that heat was a different layer to the sessions they’ve had so far, and the way we approached it was also slightly different.
“We’ve gone from the large 11v11 games to reducing the numbers and size of the game. It was five-a-side in those hot temperatures with a focus on really intense football. It’s another aspect of what we need because it’s a more short and sharp way of playing football.”
And things are due to change again next week as the focus switches to the start of another busy season with the home game against Crawley fast approaching that weekend.
“It’s all gradually coming together and the players are working extremely hard,” he commented. “From next week you’ll see that we will pretty much return to our normal working week.
“With us having been up to the north of Scotland this weekend we won’t train until Monday afternoon, but it’ll be a normal week other than that.
“We’ll have a football fitness session on Monday with a little bit of tactical work on Tuesday. Wednesday will be off, Thursday will be very much focused on tactical aspects, and Friday will be about football and the tactics we want to use in the game.
“That’s generally our working week, and in the afternoons the players will also work with Dave Waldie, our strength and conditioning coach, as he tops them up in other areas. We feel that overall it’s a very rounded way of going about things.
“We’re actually now at the stage where we’re really looking forward to getting on with the business of the season and I’m sure our fans are looking forward to it as much as we are.”
Speaking more about the Saturday friendly at Dingwall, he said: “We want to continue to improve our fitness and our sharpness.
“I also want to see us continue to improve on the tactical elements we’re working towards and I want to see each player continue to progress with their personal aspects.
“Make no mistake, come the first game we’ll be prepared, but there’ll be continuous progress with other things we see as we go through the season. The moment you stand still in football you’re in trouble.”
“As far as the game is concerned, we’re looking at some players getting towards 90 minutes, but the workloads from Thursday will be a factor in deciding that. Having said that, when it comes to the first game of the season comes we want playing for 90 minutes to be the easiest part of it.”
Working behind the scenes in a bid to secure more signings, he told us: “There won’t be any new faces for the Ross County game.
“We’ll continue to try, as we do every day, and obviously it was good to see Nathan back with the group because that gave everybody a lift, and he’s integrated immediately, as you would expect with a character like he is.
“He was looking sharp, he was vibrant and he’s always a danger going forward, regardless of whether it’s in training or in games. He’s a very likeable lad and it’s good to see him back.”
And on the trio of injuries, he added: “Jack Iredale trained with the group for the first time today. He’s obviously been building towards that over the last couple of days with Dolly and Dave Waldie.
“There seems to be no ill effects from that, which is really pleasing, and he’ll travel with the party for Saturday’s game.
“Keighran Kerr trained again, so he looks fine, and we had good news regarding Hallam Hope. It was slight damage to previous scar tissue and he should return to training on Monday.”
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