Good to get away from it all

Manager Glenn Roeder believes Norwich City's decision to get away from it all - not once, but twice - has been essential in giving them the best preparation for the Championship season.

Manager Glenn Roeder believes Norwich City's decision to get away from it all - not once, but twice - has been essential in giving them the best preparation for the Championship season.

The Canaries' squad spent a week of intensive training at former Formula One champion Nigel Mansell's country club near Exeter earlier this month and their tour of Sweden draws to a close tonight with a match against Falkenbergs FF at Stafsinge (7pm CET).

City's players had an eight-week break between the final match of last season and the return to training on July 1, but on returning to work, Roeder was keen to take them away from family distractions.

He clearly believes keeping the players together 24 hours a day engenders better team spirit and concentrates the mind.

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He said: "It's helping because we're together the whole time, which is important, and the players can concentrate on their football and their fitness and the new ones can get to know the players who were here last year.

"If you're back at Colney every day and there's that break every night when you go home, I don't think you can be fully rested when you are back home, for obvious reasons. There's always something around the house to do or you're always being asked to do something.

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"This break we've had in Devon and the one here in Sweden have been very helpful."

There was better news on the injury front yesterday with the ankle problems afflicting centre-backs Jason Shackell and Gary Doherty not as serious as feared, although they are unlikely to play tonight.

"They will both struggle to make the game. I don't think either of them are seriously hurt, thankfully. Both should be fit for the Tottenham game next Monday," said Roeder.

Both players hobbled off during Saturday's 2-1 win over Ahlafors IF in the first tour match.

"They were just a couple of clumsy tackles that got them injured. I don't think they were malicious, either of them, just late and clumsy but thankfully they're not badly hurt."

Falkenbergs are currently fifth in the Superettan - the "Super One" - or Swedish second division, and are likely to provide a sterner test than Ahlafors. They were beaten 3-2 at Enkopings SK FK in their last league fixture 10 days ago.

"It's an opportunity to gain more match practice, more match fitness," said Roeder. "It doesn't matter how much running you do and fitness work, there's nothing better than preparing yourself for match fitness than playing in games. It's going to be a much tougher game.

"I spoke to Roy Hodgson last week and he knows the place well. He says we'll enjoy going there. They're good people - to be truthful the whole of Sweden is full of good people. The hospitality where we're staying is excellent. It will just push us on that little bit further come the end of the game."

Roeder has made no decision yet on goalkeeper Stuart Nelson, on trial with City after being released by Leyton Orient.

Nelson played the second half at Gorleston and another 45 minutes against Ahlafors, but had very little to do.

"He's been a good lad to have in the group. He's shown some good qualities in the practices we've had on the training ground," said Roeder. "He hasn't been worked at all in either game he's played in, so until he gets a much sterner test it will be difficult to make a decision."

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