Evatt: Clarke lessons learned

Blackpool's Ian Evatt

Blackpool's Ian Evatt

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IAN Evatt believes the Portugal training camp will play a vital part in making sure Pool are fit and healthy heading into the new season.

In years gone by, the Seasiders used to start playing pre-season friendlies just days after returning from their summer break.

But a shocking injury to Billy Clarke two years ago, which virtually ended his Pool career – the frontman never regained his place and ended up joining Crawley in January – has seen a change of policy.

Pool have headed abroad for warm-weather training camps as opposed to playing friendlies. They spent last week in Portugal and don’t play their first pre-season game until they face Chorley on Thursday.

Evatt feels more training and less playing is the way to go.

The centre-back said: “A lot of our pre-season friendlies are taking place but our training camp in Portugal last year proved that fitness and ball work is more important in the first few weeks.

“Two years ago we lost Billy Clarke to a really bad injury in an early pre-season game. That cost him a year in the Premier League and probably cost him his career at the club.

“I think we’ve all learned from that, with the longer preparation in training limiting injuries so far.”

Evatt and the rest of the squad have been receiving Spanish lessons since returning from their summer break.

Manager Ian Holloway is determined to get his team playing in a more Spain-like manner next season.

Evatt admits it won’t exactly be easy to replicate the likes of Fabregas, Iniesta and Xavi but says it will be fun trying.

The 31-year-old added: “We have been through video footage with the gaffer. We watched some clips from Spain’s Euro 2012 semi-final and final victories to see what they do and how we can take it into our performances this season.

“It will take time to learn because I don’t think we’ll get the respect that Spain get from teams in the Championship, but it’s definitely a great way of playing and very enjoyable.”