Wednesday 9th July, 2014 at 6:33pm
Thistle begin their pre-season fixture list in earnest this evening with a friendly against FC Pinatar Arena (KO 6pm UK time), a team that was recently promoted to the Spanish third division.
Having trained at the Pinatar Arena since Monday afternoon the players are beginning to acclimatise to the conditions. However, with temperatures consistently in the early 30s it promises to be a punishing workout ahead of the team’s second friendly of the week, against Brighton on Saturday.
Having trained well so far on their trip manager, Alan Archibald, insists that, at this stage, any games are more about training and fitness than the result.
“All the lads have trained well since they came back from the summer and the first few days in Spain have been quite tough.
“Obviously most of the boys just aren’t used to the heat but they’ve been doing ever so well and I’ve no doubt we’ll see the benefits of the hard work when we return to competitive action at the beginning of August.”
Although many teams returning for pre-season training won’t see a ball to begin with, the Thistle management team was keen to emphasise that the focus has been on football as much as fitness from the very start for the Jags.
“At the end of the day, we’re a football team and both myself and Scott were keen to get the boys back kicking a ball as soon as possible. Obviously fitness is important and we are keeping a very close eye on that too but it’s important not to lose track of the overall aim.
“The guys all returned in great shape so it was just a case of getting them back used to the intensity of top flight football and getting a bit of the sharpness back. We’ve worked closely with our sports scientist, Graeme Henderson, and our strength and conditioning coach, Barry Stephen, to get them back to the right level while, at the same time, not overworking them.”
Although the Spanish third division team are something of an unknown quantity for Thistle and come into this game off some great form last season, Archie insists that the result is not important.
He said: “I know people will be looking for us to get a victory and it certainly would be nice to get the pre-season off to a winning start but for us it’s all about the performance. The players have been looking really strong in training and I’m just looking for them to take that into the game this evening.
“A few of the guys will be wearing GPS monitors so we can analyse their performances including intensity, work rate, speed and distance covered. We’ve also got a few trialists with us so we’ll be looking to see how they get on in a game situation.”