Manager on ThursdayThursday, 10th Sep 2020
10/09/20: SC- “At this moment in time we are restricted and cannot play eleven v eleven football even amongst ourselves. That is down to the guidelines that we are having to respect.”
Two and a half weeks into pre season training, manager Stevie Crawford discussed the progress made under the stringent restrictions due to Covid-19. The club has appreciated of the opportunity to share training facilities at the Indodrill Stadium, Alloa but Stevie described the on the field activity as ‘challenging’.
“Pre season is traditionally when you did your hard running. There is still hard running but there is more on the sports science side to make it as much game related as possible.
“It has been challenging for the coaching staff in terms of the guidelines to try and make sure that we get as much as we can into their legs given the restriction on the amount of time that we are allowed on the training ground at the moment. We are restricted to training times and the amount of sessions that we can do within a working week. On top of that there are restrictions on the areas that we are allowed to use on the training field.
“The sessions are limited to a maximum of ninety minutes per day. The challenge doesn’t mean bringing them in seven days for ninety minutes. There is dialogue between ourselves and Jamie Sutton the physio and Gary McColl (sports scientist) where we are making sure that the loads and the intensity of the training sessions are what we need them to be at this stage of the season.
“We have to make sure that we are not covering too much high speed running and sprint distances. That would expose players to the threat of muscle injuries early in the pre season. What we have found difficult, and where we have had to be as creative as we can, is getting the distance into the legs.
“Last season each person covered 50K in the first week, this year we managed just under 40 in the first week. That is good because a lot of it has involved the ball and in restricted areas. We try and get that balance right where you are not leaving yourself exposed to injuries. Also when working in smaller areas there is more chance of contact, so then with contact that brings knocks. Touch wood we seem to be in an okay place with that at the moment.”
The last SC saw of his players was in the second week in March so he acknowledges that it is impossible to make a judgement on their returning fitness when you are in a situation that has never been experienced before. He has quizzed former Dunfermline and Scotland teammate, Barry Nicholson who is coach at Fleetwood Town about conditioning of players.
“They were coming back from lockdown to play in play off games and you try and pick up bits and pieces to reduce the chance of injuries. In the main the players have gone out and looked after themselves.
“They were on furlough and you could only advise them. Some players find longer distance stuff more natural so they would have been keener to go and do it. There are other ones who feel that becomes a drag. Since coming back Gary has done a mass test with them. They covered 1200 metres in a certain time and there are variables within that. You have boys who are naturally quick, boys who are better over a longer distance and the happy medium.
“We have put boys into groups and they have applied themselves properly to the things that we have done. Again you are just trying to reduce the risk of them landing up on the treatment table by trying to keep up run alongside somebody quicker.”
The team is now just over three weeks away from the first competitive match at Dumbarton in the Betfred Cup and in normal circumstances pre season friendlies would have been arranged. This year everyone is asking when these are going to be possible but even the manager has chopped and changed opponents, dates and venues in such a way that he cannot go public in saying when friendlies will happen.
“We have five games organised but there is protocol and guidelines that change continually. The door may open to enable us to play a bounce game amongst ourselves but at this moment in time we are restricted and cannot play eleven v eleven football even amongst ourselves. That is down to the guidelines that we are having to respect.”
The manager feels that bringing the squad together has been a major boost for the players well being.
“Just being amongst each other and being able to talk, have a laugh and become competitive again. You have had something taken away from you that you love, and I sense that the players were desperate for months to get back. They wanted out of the house, to go and get a sweat up and return from a days work.”
Stevie knows that the fans want to see images of the players back in training. With club photographer, Craig Brown, not allowed to attend the training, Stevie tried taking some of his own but when reviewed by Craig he decided that Stevie should stick to coaching.
The exclusion of the photographer is just one of several limitations that the current Covid guidelines create. After training players can’t shower at Alloa, the players have to turn up in their own gear and every club is facing that. Stevie added:-
“We are getting temperature tested, we have not had any issues with that and then funds have been provided for us to get an App that asks four questions about any symptoms. The players and coaching staff have to enter that in the morning and then when we arrive we get the temperature testing.”
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