Crossbar Challenge, Baby Seats and Tactics...
The players were given a slightly later start than anticipated on day two to ensure that they were rested and ready for the first footballing session of the trip.
Strength & conditioning coach Nick Ward again leads the morning session, putting the players through a series of stretching and running drills. Meanwhile, a number of squad members opt for the gym, including those nursing minor injuries.
The intensity of the training is not too strenuous, due to the heat, and regular breaks are taken to allow the players to maintain their hydration levels. With energy to spare following the session, Alan Judge, Neal Bishop and Jeff Hughes work on their shooting technique, testing the goalkeepers, Bartosz Bialkowski and Liam Mitchell.
This precedes an accuracy challenge that we set up for the lads as a tester for a feature coming to Magpie Player soon. Five balls are lined up across the width of the pitch and the player that hits the crossbar the most times wins.
Bish manages one out of five, Jeff the same, before the competition favourite, Judgey, steps up. The midfielder hit the woodwork on countless occasions last term but, unbelievably, he fails to register.
Still, out of frustration, his long strike to the other end of the small 3G pitch cannons against the frame of the goal. 'Nil pwa'.
On the subject of Judgey, and his new teammate, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, a light-hearted joke welcomed them into a team meeting. Two baby chairs were labeled as their seats – written on napkins in marker pen - a rib at the duo’s height, that raises plenty of laughs as the players filter into the restaurant.
The football section, which concludes training for the Monday, sees coach Colin Lee break down the team’s attacking play with the aim of making them more threatening in the final third. An interview with Colin, along with multiple other features will be available on Magpie Player.