Since Monday, the Eagles playing squad have swapped their normal Beckenham home for the warmer climes of the Algarve in south Portugal as the quest for full fitness ahead of the Premier League season begins.
In temperatures well over 30 degrees the players, under the watchful eye of Ian Holloway, Keith Millen and the rest of the coaching and fitness staff, have been put through their paces with two 90 minute sessions a day to gear up for a first top-flight season in eight years.
A varied schedule saw the players on the training pitch undergoing fitness and ball-work on Monday whilst Tuesday brought about strength and conditioning in the gym. After a recovery day on Wednesday which saw some light training in the morning, the players have been back on the pitch for another full schedule today.
New signings Dwight Gayle and Jerome Thomas have been integrating with their new team-mates around the resort for the first time, and during free time there has been plenty of action on the tennis courts, ping-pong tables and in the swimming pools around the complex as team spirit continues to grow.
The manager has also been able to have several meetings with the squad to talk about the upcoming season and assistant boss Millen believes the trip has been a brilliant exercise on all fronts.
He said: “We’ve had to monitor the players; some of them have been playing internationals and have only had three weeks rest so they’re not doing quite as much work, but those who didn’t play in the play-offs have had seven or eight weeks off. They’re all at different levels so we have to make sure that they’re doing the right amount of work.
“One of the strengths of this group is they have a great bond and togetherness. I saw that last year and it got us through the play-offs because they just want to work hard for each other. They’re a pleasure to work with and be around.
“We’ve brought six younger players to get them into the first-team environment and learn to be as professional as the first-team, two new signings and a couple of trialists so it’s quite a new group with 10 new bodies so the quicker they can all gel on and off the pitch the better.”
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