12:29 21st July 2013
Skipper reflects on productive week and what's got squad talking
IT’S our final day in Bad Waltersdorf today.
We head to Sopron in Hungary tomorrow for the second game of our pre-season tour against Puskas FC Academy before going on to the airport to fly home.
The double sessions are catching up with us now and a lot of the boys found it tough yesterday.
But that’s what pre-season is all about and you just get on with it.
The afternoon session involved a spot of foot tennis and when we arrived it was all set up, and Kevin Keen and Keith Downing were having an on court battle – with Dean Kiely acting as ball boy!
Kev’s still pretty good technically he’s a sort of Federer and Keith’s more like a Nadal.
I suppose I should apologise to my room-mate Gaz McAuley for nearly knocking him out with a stray flick during one of our games.
It was pretty funny and everyone had a good laugh – I think he’s forgiven me.
That’s just an illustration of the great spirit there is in the squad – everyone is still getting along at the end of what has been a gruelling week.
After the first pre-season under the gaffer last year the lads knew what to expect this time.
We knew it was going to be tough and I think the lads have adapted to it a little bit better this year, which is pleasing from the gaffer’s point of view.
Ben Foster set the standards in the morning session yesterday with one of his wonder saves from Liam O’Neil’s close-range header.
But he wasn’t the only one leaping around the training pitch!
Kit manager Pat Frost did his best David Attenborough impression in trying to shepherd a frog, who seemed to fancy a game, away to safety.
I’m not so sure Pat is doing as well in the staff British Open golf sweepstake.
But our fitness coach Greeny’s got two of the top five – Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson - heading into the last round and Keith’s got Lee Westwood.
There is plenty of banter flying around on who’s going to win – and I reckon it’s going to be a tight finish.
With a bit of luck I’ll work out a way I can watch the action.
It’s the last couple of training sessions today and we’re all looking forward to tomorrow’s game, which should set us up nicely for a good week back in the UK.
We’ll be trying to do better than we did against Hannover 96.
The lads are a few days further on in training and it would be nice to get a good result as well.
With the coverage of the Barclays Premier League all over the world, we know it’s a massive game for Puskas.
They will really want to show what they can do against us and beat us.
We have to be prepared for that and we just need to do our own thing and use what we’ve worked on in training.
Tomorrow’s going to be a hectic day so this will be my final diary entry of what has been a productive trip.
The people down at the training ground have been spot on and we had a fair few fans turn up there yesterday to get autographs from the players.
The hotel has also been good and we’ve left them with a nice team photo for their reception walls.
We’ve had no problems and that’s a rare thing when you come away on trips like these.
They’ve looked after us well and it’s been great.
We’ll make sure we enjoy tonight – and we’ve got another birthday cake to look forward to after dinner, as Ridgey turns 29 today.
Vielen Dank und Auf Wiedersehen [Thank you and goodbye]!