Clubs face juggling act to keep players primed

Clubs face juggling act to keep players primed

Clubs face juggling act to keep players primed

Newquay manager Craig Ainslie says clubs face a dilemma to ensure players peak at the right time for the next campaign.

17th March 2021

By Tom Howe

Ahead of what could be their longest ever pre-season, Newquay manager Craig Ainslie says clubs face a dilemma to ensure players peak at the right time for the next campaign.

In light of updated restrictions, the South West Peninsula League (SWPL) have decided not to push forward plans for a supplementary cup competition to replace the curtailed league campaign and provide clubs with the opportunity to continue playing competitive football should they desire to do so.

Following the news of their domestic seasons, both Newquay and cross-town rivals Godolphin Atlantic had indicated a desire to play in the SWPL’s proposed knockout tournament, with some describing the idea as an extended pre-season before a return to ‘normality’ in 2021-22.

However, due to supporters being kept away until May 17 and rules around licensed premises, the plans have since been shelved. The teams are still due to meet in the third round of the Cornwall Senior Cup but that particular competition remains on hold pending further guidance, leaving them in a bit of quandary.

“We’re ticking along but obviously we are still a way off next season,” said Ainslie in discussion with the Voice. “Whilst we need to have an eye on next season, equally we need to make sure that the way we manage the players is appropriate. We were potentially looking at ramping up for this cup competition that was proposed.

“We had an idea of what that might look like but that is not now going to happen so we have our eyes firmly on pre-season and we’re provisionally looking at the middle of June to commence that.

“That said, once we get some more guidance from the FA in terms of what grassroots football is going to look like from the point where restrictions are going to ease, are we going to be [training in] limited numbers or are we going to be back to full contact training?

“We will look to have some kind of practical interaction with the players if only to keep the social side going and make sure that we’re still having that face time, nothing too heavy or too intense, just a chance to keep the guys together and keep that motivation and communication up. We have started discussing some of the requirements for pre-season and talking about the kind of teams we would like to be facing and why.

“We’ve got a structured pre-season friendly programme that supports the training package that myself and Shaun Middleton have put together. We don’t want to rush things. We want to make sure that we start the ball rolling at the right time so we peak at the right time. We don’t want to put the players under any unnecessary risk both from the covid perspective and from an injury perspective.”

Having picked up the reins from Tony Mackellar, who is leaving after five seasons due to work commitments, Ainslie revealed to the Voice his first few weeks in the job had been ‘universally positive’ and said he and his team are already hard at work to ensure Newquay’s players and supporters can make up for lost time.

“There is lots of positivity, but I suppose like with any newly-appointed manager you have concerns about what the squad might look like and how they might react to the appointment. Thankfully for me it has been universally positive which has been great. Lots of players have been quite happy to commit to the project that we’re trying to take forward.

“We expect there to be some slight changes in personnel but we will look to take forward almost the entirety of the squad from last season which is really exciting. We have got some good players but there will be clubs out there looking for players. We just hope that the offer we present to our players is positive enough that they think this is a good place to play their football next season and beyond.

“We are potentially looking at some higher profile friendlies against teams in a higher league position. I know that there is some good work going on in the background with the committee to try and get that to happen. It would be great for the club, much like the Hashtag and Chester games.

“It will be a great opportunity for the club and for the players to test themselves against really high quality players from a high standard.

“I have asked for a very specific range of fixtures in terms of the quality of opposition we might face and I have had some really good conversations with the secretary, Steve Rich, who is doing his absolute best.”