Captain Scott Dann gives us his first notes of the season that appear in today's match programme.
It’s great to be back at Selhurst Park again this afternoon after a busy summer for myself and the football club.
My season ended on a sore note as I sustained some damage to my ankle ligaments in the FA Cup final. At first I thought it was going to be a long lay-off but once we got the results back the doctor said it was nothing serious and I would only be out for about six weeks so it fitted in well. If there is any time to be injured then it’s best to be at the end of the season!
The chance to give my body a rest has probably helped and I am feeling good again. As you probably did too, I enjoyed watching plenty of Euro 2016 and all the lads here were in full support of the Welsh and French boys, and we were all really pleased to see them get so far. They’re all back now and in good spirits and hopefully they can bring that into the season.
To make sure that I was fit and ready to go I came back a week ahead of the rest of the squad, but training with the lads again has been really good. It was also nice to get the group away for 10 days or so in the USA and Canada which I think is something you need in pre-season. We’ve not had the full squad with us because of the Euros and transfers but it was enjoyable and a good place to get some of the hard work done.
The three games we had over there plus the ones we’ve had back in England means that today’s match will be our eighth of pre-season with another to come on Monday, but personally I like to play in as many games as I can. There is a lot to be said for having plenty of training on specific things but when you get into matches it’s totally different. It’s been great to get the good habits back like making sure you’re in the right positions after a couple of months off, so I’ve enjoyed playing more minutes than previous years.
That should continue today and we know that we have our biggest test of the summer facing us. Valencia are a top team and I watched them a few times last season; they didn’t come as high in the league as they normally do but they finished strongly under their new manager and they’re still a team who are used to the Champions League and have top quality players, so going up against elite European opposition is something we’re all looking forward to.
I’m also really looking forward to being back at Selhurst Park again after three months away. When you come back for pre-season and start playing friendlies it doesn’t feel like the season is close but it suddenly becomes real when you play a home game, especially in front of our fans.
Hopefully we can give you plenty to shout about this afternoon, seven days away from the new campaign.