Super-fit players can adapt to mini ‘pre-season’- Iwan

Norwich City are back at their Colney training centre, working under strict guidelines Picture: Arch

Norwich City are back at their Colney training centre, working under strict guidelines Picture: Archant - Credit: Tony Thrussell

Modern-day training methods should mean professional footballers can get through their mini ‘pre-season’ without major problems, according to Canaries legend Iwan Roberts.

Premier League players returned to training this week as part of Step One of the Return to Training Protocol – with small group, non-contact sessions for the next two weeks. If all goes to plan Step Two would see more intense training ahead of a possible resumption of action next month.

It means a short spell of preparation, but Roberts says footballers are so finely-tuned they can quickly adapt to those needs.

“Players are real athletes now,” said Roberts. “They do look after themselves, they don’t carry any weight. Yes, they have had a long time of isolation and training by themselves, and it is not ideal, it isn’t great, but they will come back and they would be, I would say, 85 to 90 percent fit.”

What football cannot replicate as it tries to keep within the health boundaries brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, are friendly games - although over the years they have become as much a commercial tool as part of a training regimen.

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“Pre-season isn’t what it was 15, 20 years ago,” said Roberts, who made more than 300 appearances for City between 1997 and 2004. “It is easier, if that is the right word.

“I don’t think it is as physical as it used to be back in the day, it is now a case of fine tuning those athletes to get themselves fully prepared for a match. In an ideal world you probably do need games, friendlies - but it doesn’t matter how many games you play, when you go into that first game of the season, a competitive one, there is nothing you have trained for – the amount of training, the toughness of the training – you are still going to be blowing out of your rear end in that first game.

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“At least in normal circumstances you knew the season finishes mid-May and you are back at the beginning of July and the season starts in the second week of August, but this has been a lot more difficult to put dates on.”

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce said: “Players have been off eight to nine weeks. Normally in pre-season it takes six weeks to get them right and six games (friendlies) so it’s going to be a bit of a shot in the dark but I hope we get the second phase done.”

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