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Interviews

INTERVIEW: We want to be back but safety is the priority

Looking ahead with Lewis Alessandra

22 May 2020

With the immediate future sorted for striker Lewis Alessandra, next on the agenda will be a return to training in preparation for the start of 2020/21 season – on a date yet to be confirmed.

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We spoke to him about his ongoing preparations for the return to the new normality this week.

“The unusual thing for us all at the moment is that we don’t know how long this period will last before next season is given a definite date,” he told us. “I must admit, I’m looking forward to pre-season and I’m hoping it’s all confirmed sooner rather than later.

“I’m itching to get back, and I know that’s the same for everybody. There are always things you can do at home to keep on top of fitness levels, and things like that, but there’s nothing like working and training together as a team.

“All I can do is the same as what we’re all doing, and that’s to listen out and wait for updates and then we can take it from there. Chances are that it won’t be the kind of ‘normal’ that we’re used to when do get back, because the priority is that everyone needs to be safe, but it’ll still be good to train with the coaching staff and to see how the other lads are getting on face-to-face.”

“Having spoken to the other lads and friends within the game I know that the last few months have just felt bizarre for all of us,” he continued. “We’re all in the same boat, that goes for the fans as well, because we’ve all had to go through this.

“On the football side of it we were given strength and conditioning and running stuff to do, and that’s been fantastic in terms of helping to keep focus and setting targets, and things like that.

“For example, we’ve had a running challenge every Friday, where we all set off at the same time and do the same distance, 5 kilometres, and that brings the competitive element into it as well. On top of that it’s something in the diary to work towards, which brings that bit of structure everybody needs.

“It can’t ever replicate what we do when we train as a group, but it definitely helps. I’m lucky in that I’m one of those who enjoys fitness work anyway, so I do it as a matter of routine, but it’s still good to have these targets and programmes to focus the mind.

“Now that last season has been officially ended, I don’t think it will make too much difference to what I’ve been doing. It’s been structured in that we’ve worked hard for a couple of weeks then had a slightly more down week where we’ve been able to rest our legs, and that’s been in preparation should the decision have gone the other way.

“A similar cycle going forward seems sensible so that I’m ready for whenever we do go back. The important thing is to keep on top of things but, in the same breath, making sure that you don’t go back having had four or five months of hard running only to blow up because you’ve done too much and not rested properly.”

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Taking time to reflect on the manner in which the 19/20 campaign ended, he said: “I was gutted when the Grimsby game was called off. I was just about to set off to meet up with everybody on the Friday, and the focus from the lads was on building on the good result we’d just got against Newport on the Tuesday night.

“I suppose it was good that we finished on that result, rather than the disappointment of the previous Saturday, but I think we’d still all have preferred to have been able to round those remaining nine games off, even though we were in a bit of a ‘nothing position’ when it was cancelled.

“And, as I’ve said previously, the fans were brilliant with me and I think they appreciated the fact that I was giving it everything, and they could see the work rate, not just from me but from the whole team.

“The results picked up and we ended up 20 points of clear of the relegation spot when were too close for comfort when I first came to the club.

“That’s why it’ll be very strange if things do kick off with no supporters in the stadium. I can imagine a lot will have watched the German games and it just doesn’t look or feel right.

“For us in League Two the game is about having fans there, both from a financial point of view and because of the passion they bring. It’s the fans who keep clubs like ours going, so these really are crazy times.

“It will feel so different if we are behind-closed-doors, but we know we’ll have to be professional. There will be three points up for grabs and our job is to do what we can to get them, whatever the circumstance.

“We want fans there to help us to do that, but the most important thing has to be safety. Everything else must work around that, and it’s up to us to make whatever that is work for us.”


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