Free from temptation

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FLEETWOOD Town’s players have everything they could wish for at their Austrian training base ... except the temptations of home.

That’s the view of assistant manager Craig Madden as the squad settled into their alpine camp in Obertraun after two days in Salzburg.

Micky Mellon’s no.2 said: “There’s nothing to focus on here except the football.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere but it’s a lovely place away from all the temptations of home, where you can get a bit sluggish. That won’t happen here because they are doing three sessions per day.

“They want for nothing. The pitches are ideal, the facilities are all in one block and the fitness people tell me the air at this altitude is the best you can have for training.

“We don’t want to go too hard on them early doors, though, because pre-season lasts for six weeks. You expect a few aches and pains at this time of year but as long as we have what we consider our strongest XI fit for the first game we’ll be happy.”

Madden also believes this is the perfect environment to integrate new players.

He added: “The new players have settled in well. They are experienced and have seen it all before, and we have a great bunch already here.”

Players new and old agree, from recent recruit Damien Johnson to longest-serving player Nathan Pond, who took part in the club’s previous Austrian training week in 2010.

Midfielder Johnson said: “I’d be lying if I said the training wasn’t tough. The boys have certainly been put through their paces. It’s hard graft but it’s enjoyable.

“I have been made to feel welcome by the management, coaching staff and players, and I’ve been really impressed by the fitness and quality of the lads here. It has definitely been a good few days.”

Pond may have done it all before, but that doesn’t make the fitness work any easier.

The centre-half said: “All the lads are working hard and are getting to know the new lads.

“The early morning run over the river seems just as long as last time, but we had some good times today and there’s great fitness throughout the squad. We’ve played three 20-minute games and that’s good.”

Fellow centre-half Rob Atkinson has spoken about his desire to try to impress the management this week in a bid to force his way back into the side.

And Pond is ready to meet that challenge, adding: “It not just at centre-half where we have competition for positions – it’s all over the squad and that keeps everyone on their toes.”

Interviews: DERICK THOMAS

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