An update from an eventful day for the Magpies...
Well, that was a long day. Up at 7.15am, an optional ‘activation’ session, which involves stretching or swimming, sees an impressive turn out.
The group splits into two, with half opting to head over to the pool and the remainder sticking to the table tennis room, where they carry out the routines set by strength & conditioning coach Nick Ward. Nick, however, is with the pool group, who run through the regular exercises ahead of a busy day.
Shortly after the initial session, the remainder of the squad takes up the seats outside the restaurant, most unable to hide their tiredness, in anticipation of the 7.45am breakfast. It’s not often that anybody is late, due to the fact that they’d face a fine, which, if appealed, can see it doubled, should the plea be unsuccessful.
Despite the early start, training is at a very high tempo, with plenty of short, sharp passing on display. The lads also work hard in the running drills, even as the temperature rises.
There’s a gap between breakfast and lunch, and then again ahead of the pre-match meal. Many of the players opt to sleep, watch movies or play table tennis.
We divert our attentions to the hotly contested table tennis table again, where Lee Hughes brushes aside multiple opponents, including Bartosz Bialkowski, Alan Judge and Gary Liddle. Arms outstretched in celebration, each challenger is even more desperate to beat him with every passing game… it doesn’t happen.
Fast-forward to the match itself, the word ‘friendly’ seems almost laughable. There’s plenty of rough challenges, the worst seeing Lidds leaving the field early, though the early signs are positive, especially considering the force of the foul.
We actually spent the day with Gary, monitoring his preparations for the match and his post-game reaction. Look out for that feature on Magpie Player later today.
Day three ends at 3.21am Spanish time the following morning with the completion of this blog entry. People don’t sleep when they room with Crossy, the kitman, because his snoring shakes the walls.