Boss gives his thoughts on pre-season programmeSTEVE Clarke is relishing the chance to lay the foundations for the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign during Albion’s eight-day training camp in Austria next month.
The Baggies will be based in Bad Waltersdorf and will play two friendlies.
They will meet top-flight German outfit Hannover 96 at the home of Austrian club FC Gleisdorf 09, in Styria, on Thursday, July 18, and will hop across the border to take on Hungarian team Puskas FC Academy at FC Sopron's stadium on Monday, July 22.
“I’ve been to Austria before, I like it, it’s a good country,” said Clarke.
“The training facilities are excellent, the food is good.
“It’s a good place, it’s relaxed, low-key.
“The climate can be quite hot. I went there with West Ham one year and it was in the 30s.
“But we train early morning and late in the afternoon so we tend to miss the warm part of the day.
“I’m looking forward to it, it should be good, training camps are always good because that’s when you have a chance to get the group together and build ideas, and the spirit for the season coming up.”
On their return from Austria the remainder of the Baggies’ pre-season schedule is shaping up with trips to Derby on Saturday, July 27 and Cork City on Tuesday, August 6 and a home clash with Bologna on
Saturday, August 10 already booked in.
And, with the majority of Europe’s major leagues kicking-off on Saturday, August 3, Clarke admits it has been tricky to map out a programme.
“It’s been a little bit harder to get opponents this year because almost every single major league in Europe starts on August 3,” he added.
“We start two weeks after. It’s been difficult to find opponents.
“The route we took last year was to play two or three Championship sides before the season started.
“That was good, it was competitive, and you don’t have to travel too far.
“With the games this year we will have to travel a bit more.
“That affects the pre-season schedule and the training.
“There are different things to think about but like I said it will have the same end product.”