Find out what happened on day six of the Finland tour...
Monday marked our last day at our base in Kemi, as the following day we faced the long trip to Jyväskylä ahead of the third encounter of the Finland tour. This meant a final opportunity for a double session.
The morning sees another gym session held, with the players that were rested for the previous evening’s game taking on the early shift. Those that did play got to enjoy the afternoon off training to ensure that they did not overdo it before Tuesday’s six-hour journey and Wednesday’s fixture.
Eight outfield players, plus goalkeepers Kevin Pilkington and Bartosz Bialkowski make up an entertaining workout. A number of others work with strength & conditioning coach Lee Fearn with a few ‘keepy-uppy’ drills, including one inspired by Barcelona that sees three of the players linked at the arms and attempting to shift the ball down the field.
In the main group, the pace is excellent in a mini-possession game. At the other end of the pitch, Pilkington runs Bialkowski through a series of interesting routines that require the Pole to carry out a series of jumps before making a save.
Following a quick water break, one-v-one – defence-v-attack – takes over in a narrowed area of the playing surface. The defenders are up against it as many of the attackers carry the ball at pace but there are just as many moments of great defensive work as impressive finishing.
This continues into a small-sided game incorporating the full-sized goals. Joss Labadie pings one into the top corner from 25 yards and Gary Liddle finds the net with an inventive back-heeled finish.
Each of the sessions and matches sees the players hooked up to heart-rate monitors. The medical staff analyse the results to see whether the players are working hard enough and whether they need a rest to avoid injury, as was the case with Andy Haworth earlier in the week.
Following training, it’s back to the hotel for the final night. You sense that most are looking forward to a change of scenery after almost a week in Kemi – a nice but quiet place.