After weeks of waiting, the Town squad are about to return for pre-season after getting approval from the FAW and Welsh Government.
We caught up with coach Ryan Valentine discussing pre-season, lockdown and the Europa League.
“Personally I can’t wait and I’m sure every one of the lads is exactly the same” Ryan told us when we asked how he felt about pre-season restarting.
“It’s been a long lockdown for everyone but the return to training in maybe a slightly different format to start with will give everyone a massive boost I’m sure.”
The past couple of weeks has seen most of the Town squad retained for the forthcoming season with three new additions to date. Ryan emphasised the importance of keeping hold of last season’s squad and gave us his thoughts about the new faces.
“For consistency and continuity it’s important to get majority of lads signed early in any off season and I’m sure Col and Fish are delighted we’ve done that.”
He continued “As with any summer there’s going to be a few adjustments and we’ve lost a couple of players ourselves but I’m sure knowing what the new lads are about not just on the pitch but off it they will fit into the squad and help us achieve even more success in the future. I’m sure there will be plenty more work going on still during the break and 1 or 2 new faces will be joining the squad to make us even stronger.”
Even though there has been no physical contact with the players since March, the Town squad have been keeping in touch regularly. Valentine expects for the lads to come back sharp and ready to go once they return for pre-season.
“Although we haven’t trained together for a while now it hasn’t meant the work has stopped. We are a tight knit club and there has been lots of zoom calls and different ideas put together on WhatsApp from Colin which has kept us all together.”
“The lads individually have been superb in looking after themselves as we’ve got Kizza’s (Kieran Smith) running club challenges, Molly (Lee Molyneux) with his Strength and Conditioning programs and Fish (Stephen Fisher) setting runs so I know when we get back together for training we will hit the ground running” he added.
Like Connah’s Quay, Barry Town United and The New Saints, the Cymru Premier representatives haven’t trained or played since the start of March. With football about to resume as we prepare for the European fixtures in August, its going to be very different circumstances with social distancing and temperature checks during the sessions, so how is that going to impact the training as a whole?
“Obviously we will be in smaller groups to start off with but there are often times during the season when we do individual unit work so hopefully it won’t be too unusual for the lads to get on with and I’m sure it won’t be too long before we can come together as one big group” Ryan said.
July would normally be around the time when the European games take place. With the game now scheduled for the end of August, the Town squad will have plenty of time to prepare for the one-legged fixture which Ryan explains that we will be completely prepared for what is ahead of them.
“It’s a little frustrating knowing the game won’t be till end of August but it will give us time now to prepare properly not just on training pitch but everything that needs to be done behind the scenes to make sure we are prepared as best we can be for the game, whether that be home or away” Valentine replied.
And does he think that the one-legged fixture will be an advantage to us?
“I think the one legged affair should help the home team but with the possibility of no fans being allowed in the ground I’m not sure how much of an advantage it will turn out to be. I just know we will be prepared as possible to get a result and get us through to next round as we haven’t accomplished that yet in the 5 attempts I’ve had since being at Bala” Ryan concluded.