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Reflections on Ireland

Posted: Sun 14 Jul 2013
Author: Andy Walker
Lee Clark

Lee Clark

Image by: Roy Smiljanic

Blues boss Lee Clark has hailed the club's pre-season training camp in the Republic of Ireland a success.

The squad returned to Birmingham yesterday afternoon after six days at Carton House and fixtures against Shamrock Rovers and MK Dons, with the latter behind-closed-doors.

There's less than three weeks until the 2013/14 campaign gets underway when Watford visit St. Andrew's on Saturday 3 August and Clark insists that he's gained plenty from the recent trip.

"It's been excellent (in Ireland)," said Clark. "The facilities were top class and the weather was like being in southern Spain on the continent.

"The players worked extremely hard. We had two good games, for various different reasons. As I said, we effectively treated them as training sessions, both of them and I think the first one we were a bit more fresh, in the second one fatigue was there.

"Obviously we got things from the MK Dons game we need to look at going forward, with different systems and different personnel. All in all it was a very good week.

"The fitness levels over the week have come on dramatically. Now, back in England, is when he real nitty gritty in terms of the tactical side of it begins and players putting down their markers now.

"I've had a good meeting with players and said 'right, it's down to you now'. I told them they've got to make that week going into August 3 very, very difficult for myself and who I pick.

"I said to them 'you decide where you're going to be - are you going to be in the starting eleven, on the bench or unfortunately in the stands?'.

"And the lads in the stands won't be particularly happy, but we have got to go forward in that way. Monday onwards, that's when it starts."

As well as all important fitness work, the training camp also gave Clark's nine summer recruits the chance to gel with their teammates and the Blues boss is delighted with the group he has assembled.
"These sessions are brilliant for the new players. It gets them to know me and vice-versa and I think what I have seen is what I was hoping for.

"I have integrated and brought together a terrific group of young players, which a good mixture of seniors, who get on really, really well and that's going to stand us in good stead.

"As part of the training camp we've had team bonding sessions, we all went paint balling, which was an important part for us all."

New Blues skipper Paul Robinson also echoed his manager's sentiments during his final 'Captain's log' daily diary.

The defender said: "It's been great fitness work for the lads and the heat has been perfect for us because it's like we've been abroad. We've all enjoyed ourselves and got to know each other a lot better."

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