Canaries get back to work

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City players return to work today facing a series of tests that will prove whether or not they have been good boys over the summer.


Norwich City players return to work today facing a series of tests that will prove whether or not they have been good boys over the summer.

All players were given a list of dos and don'ts at the beginning of the summer, and when sports scientists Dave Carolan gets to work on them at the club's Colney training centre this week, he will soon be able to find out if any have strayed.

However, it's not a scenario he expects to face, despite the temptations of holidays resorts around the world that have had the pleasure of City players' company this off-season.

“Go back 10 years and players would spend all summer sitting by the pool doing nothing,” said Carolan. “There are still some players who believe in total rest, but they are very, very few and far between. It's not how it happens nowadays. We talk about players hitting the ground running, but we expect them to be have been running already.

“This year's programme for the summer ran to about nine pages with information about their training programme. Over the seven and a half weeks they are off they will have been advised to have two weeks off - but not two weeks together - and one week was the first after the Wolves game at the end of the season.”

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Carolan's preparations are in full swing may and he may not be Mr Popular for a while as he puts the players through their paces during the early part of this week.

“They have had tests at the end of the season which show how strong they are and exactly what they need to do and when they return we assess where they are now,” said Carolan. “We don't expect them to be at the levels they were at the end of last season, but we do expect them to turn up in a prepared state ready to go. It is then a case of taking their levels up to a point where, come August 5, they are as prepared as we can possibly get them.”

Today the players will undergo blood lactate profile assessment on a treadmill of increasing intensity - “This is where you some some people disliking you” - which will show their state of readiness for the training ahead. Tomorrow it's blood tests and medical testing with the club doctors, physiotherapist Neal Reynolds and Carolan and assessment of body composition - how much muscle and fat the players are carrying and how hydrated they are.

Carolan expects few real problems, and cites Darren Huckerby as an example of how a professional footballer should look after himself during the summer.

“There will be some players who train every day because they want to maintain their standards,” he said. “Darren Huckerby is one of those high-end athletes who does his training religiously to a very, very high standard and his attitude towards it tells when it comes to the testing.

“He is pretty much top of the tree and there is a lesson to be learned for young players and current players alike.”

One test the players won't have to undergo is the dreaded 300m challenge.

“We are proud of our fitness programmes and our training but we are not too big to admit that we have to change with the times,” he said. “We have seen players who have come in from clubs who perhaps don't have the same type of methods and intensity as we do and we need to take that into account a little bit more. We have tailored our training more to the individual, not just throw the new players in with the ones who are here and expect them to do the same. We always want to learn more and look at new and better ways of improving our training because football is about being able to last the duration of the entire game.”