A week of double training sessions under a burning sun is pretty standard when it comes to pre-season for your average footballer, but knowing what’s to come doesn’t really make it any easier, even though these lads are professional athletes with an already high level of tolerance.
Another expected summer activity is the equally dreaded ‘I know you’ve just finished and you’re completely knackered, but put your face in front of this camera anyway’ post-training interview foisted upon individuals who would much rather be relaxing during the break between their lung-busting exploits.
First up this summer is defender Morgan Feeney, who looked surprisingly fresh despite having been worked hard and burned to crisp for just over two hours on Friday morning.
“It’s been brilliant for me to get back on the grass after a bit of a strange season last season,” he confirmed. “I’m thoroughly enjoying it and every day I’ve got a smile on my face.
“You have to keep on top of things before you do this and I work myself hard in the off season, to make sure I come back in the best position I possibly can.
“The hard work’s paid off because I’m feeling good on the pitch, I’m feeling fit, and now just hoping to get fitter through the running and sessions we do.
“I’ve come back feeling the best I’ve felt in a couple of years, if not ever. I’m feeling really good and positive about it.”
With him having broken a bone in his foot just days after joining the club in January, he told us: “It’s almost like signing for a new club again.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m settled and I’ve been settled from the first day I walked in, everyone was brilliant with me, but it’s hard to feel part of the team when you can’t really contribute, and you hadn’t contributed prior to getting injured.
“The off-season was massive for me just to have that little break to really put the work in. It’s like a complete new slate for me. I’m just ready to get going again now.
“It’s been really warm, so that’s made it even tougher, and I think it’s been hotter than most pre-seasons I’ve done. With my skin there’s been plenty of sun cream on.
“It just makes the running that little bit harder, the little sessions you do, even the small passing drills can be tough in the heat. You need to be in really good shape, make sure you’re recovering well and looking after yourself. But it puts a bit of a smile on your face when it’s like this.”
And heat, rain or whatever, standards are already being set with each session taking on its own level of intensity and purpose.
“The demands are really high, both with the ball and fitness wise,” he confirmed. “We’ve got the right balance, we’ve been doing quite a bit of ball work, eased our way in and we’re starting to get up to good match tempo type drills now.
“The running is ramping up, it’s the right balance at the minute of staying fit and making sure everyone’s sharp on the ball and in a good place for the season. It’s been tough but very enjoyable, and you know that’s it’s something that needs to be done.
“It’s not something that I’d say comes naturally to me either. I’m not really built for running. I’m sure most of the lads would say the same as well. If you’re fit you find that you can do it, and that’s why we all work so hard through the summer.
“The whole point of this now is to make sure we get match fit, and not many will say they really enjoy it, we just know we have to do it right. The ball work is more about knocking the rust off, but you don’t realise how much you’re putting into that as well until you finish.
“The lads are all looking forward to just training and playing, we can’t wait. I think it’s just a natural progression of ramping things up as weeks go by and getting you ready for playing matches, with a quick turnaround.
“It’s quite meticulous in the way it’s done, it’s tough but you’ve got to train your body to be ready for that. Every session we’re just looking forward to what’s coming and what we can do with it.”
And part of the pre-season process, almost as important as the fitness work, is the gelling of the group as new and old faces come together under a common cause.
“Everybody has been brilliant,” he commented. “It’s a great group of lads who have come in and settled well.
“With the way this group is, people come in and they welcome lads in as though they’ve been here forever. It’s quite easy to settle when it’s like that. We’ve signed a couple of really good players and they’re going to be important to us during the season.
“It’s just a really good group and there’s competition for places. We’re all pushing each other on, and there’s been one or two tackles going in and people getting on at each other, but that just shows what kind of group we are. We’re all winners and we want to do well.”
We’ll have more from Morgan Feeney on the official website on Monday morning where he talks about the challenges of the season ahead.
Click HERE to watch an interview with Morgan Feeney on iFollow United now.
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