Double sessions and games against quality opposition… there’s plenty of sweat being shed by the team out in Austria. Those hard yards are a key part of the preparation, feels assistant manager Nigel Gibbs.
It’s a full-on schedule for the boys and thus a chance to really get to grips with manager Paul Clement’s playing style… as well as everything else that builds the base to be ready for when August comes around and the season begins.
“We arrived on Sunday evening in time for the World Cup final, so we watched that together, and then the lads had a recovery session,” said Gibbs. “We’ve settled in well; the hotel is perfect for what we need, and then we were out early on Monday morning to have a really good training session.
“We’ve got another session before the game tomorrow evening; pre-season is all about getting the volume in and pushing the players, without pushing them over the edge.
“It’s a full schedule and a really good environment to work and get to know each other a bit more. It’s important to get that team spirit going. And we also have two great games to look forward to.
“It is hot and humid here; the pitches are fantastic and there’s a big area for us to work in. The boys are working hard and they’ll continue to do so, as everything leads up to that Derby game.
“You have to have that base – it’s really important that you get it. It’s a six-week pre-season from the first day to the first game, and we want all players to come through fit and we want to take work from the training field into the games.
“We saw that against Fulham on Saturday and we were pleased with a lot of the performances. We want that to continue.
“The games are there to be seen, but the work here on the training field is just as important. Everyone is fighting for that shirt and trying to impress the manager to get into his team.
“So the games are important, but the training, meetings, and whatever else we do… it’s an important week for us. And so far, so good.”
The players are in training on Tuesday morning, before they travel over to Graz to meet Beşiktaş in a friendly fixture.
It’s bound to be a competitive game against a club well-reputed across the continent.
“Beşiktaş have played four games already – and they beat CSKA Moscow 4-1 on Saturday,” Gibbs continued. “So we know they are a top team and it’ll be a really good test for us.
“There’ll be some players in their team that the fans will know, and we know all about them. They’ll be a strong team and we are looking forward to that test.”