08:00AM, Monday 10 August 2020
Slough Town’s players will be eased back into pre-season training this month before preparations are ramped up in September, Jon Underwood has said.
With the pain of last month’s play-off defeat to Dartford still relatively fresh in their minds, Underwood says the players will be brought back in for one session a week before getting back to a normal pre-season routine, with friendly matches, from next month.
The management team are keen for the players to have some time to reflect on last season’s achievements, and disappointments, before they get back into the hard work of preparing for a new season – one they hope will see the club challenge for promotion once again.
The players also have a base layer of fitness built up from three weeks of training for the Dartford game so it won’t take them quite as long as other clubs to get up to speed.
There’s also no need to rush with almost two months still to go until their first competitive match, an FA Cup second round qualifying tie on October 3.
“We haven’t started yet,” he said. “We’ve got a session back tomorrow (Thursday, August 6), and we’re doing it a bit slower than most just because we came back in for three weeks when others weren’t. We’ve still got two months until the season starts so we’re going to open up with some weekly sessions, nothing too serious initially because we’ve got so much time now actually.
“The main reason is to look at a few trialists and that sort of thing so that’s what we’re using it for initially. We’ll do that for a few weeks and then we’ll ramp it up in September.”
The National League season will kick off shortly after the FA Cup tie on October 3, but Underwood accepts that the current situation with regards to COVID-19 means there has to be at least some uncertainty over whether the season will get underway as planned. He says the club will continue working towards those dates until told otherwise by the league or government. The club is also carrying out a risk assessment of Arbour Park and putting together a plan to ensure fans can return to Arbour Park.
It would be a huge boost if the government approved the FA’s proposals for the return of paying spectators, however, Underwood also acknowledges that due to COVID-19 measures and restrictions attendances are likely to be capped and well down on previous seasons.
“To be honest I think we’re all just happy to do as we’re told for the time being,” he said. “Obviously, October 3 is the start date we’ve been given and it is, as everything in the world is at the moment, subject to change.
“Hopefully that won’t be the case, and hopefully we can get going then, and also get some supporters back in the ground, because that’s one of the things the club is currently working on.
“We’re working out what we can do in terms of supporters back into Arbour Park, there’s going to be some restrictions around that.
“That’s the challenge for the club in terms of logistics and also financially, because I’m sure we won’t have the crowds we normally have flocking back to Arbour Park unfortunately.”
W Slough Town have announced the signing of 23-year-old attacking midfielder Jack McKnight.
McKnight has signed for the club after spending the past 18 months at National League side Eastleigh.
He first impressed the Rebels’ management team when playing for Basingstoke Town at Arbour Park a few years ago, scoring a goal in that game before later sealing his move to the Spitfires.
McKnight made 34 starts for Eastleigh in his first season, helping them into the play-offs and scoring a penalty in a play-off shootout against Salford City.
Jon Underwood said: “Last season his appearances were reduced by injury, but he is now fully recovered and ready to push on again, and we believe he will be a really useful addition to the squad.”
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