Reading manager Mark Bowen has provided an update on his players’ first week back at training.
Two-and-a-half months have passed since the last Football League fixture was played, but this week saw the return of player training as the EFL and Premier League near their respected returns.
Speaking to www.readingfc.co.uk, Bowen spoke of his hopes to eventually get the footballing world back to a normal state:
“It seems an eternity since we were last speaking after training, preparing for Stoke I think a couple of months ago. A lot of stuff has happened in between.
“But I sense that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Protocols are in place, the Premier League are pushing ahead with things, and the EFL is not far behind – if at all.”
The Premier League announced yesterday that fixtures will resume on 17 June, with the Championship largely expected to follow suit at around the same time.
“We’re trying to put the right structures in place for the players, trying to keep it different in the way that the players prepare every day,” continued Bowen.
“Things are changing – one minute we had single players working alone under supervision and now we’re getting back into groups of four or five, and hopefully soon we’ll be back into 11 v 11 situations.”
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Training has only been allowed to return under strict guidelines which prevent players from training in close quarters, and in large groups. Some clubs have also staggered their training times to ensure the safest possible environment for their players.
“They’ve worked hard,” Bowen said of his players during the break. “We aren’t just going straight into ball-work, we are also making them work hard as well to keep fitness levels up to keep on progressing.
“I can only speak for my group, but the way that the players have come back with a real edge. I sense that there’s a buzz about the place. They’ve been sat at home for far too long, and now there’s a bit of excitement.”
That excitement has seeped into football fans who’ve recently been treated to some live Bundesliga action – the first major European league to resume its season.
“But what I’ve seen out there, is that they have an aptitude for hard work, they are excited about the prospect of getting back to playing again, and that’s the key thing for us,” finished Bowen.
His Reading side currently sit in 14th-place of the Championship table. They’ve pulled themselves out of a relegation battle that previous manager Jose Gomes had left them in, and now sit just eight points from the top-six.
Many were sceptical about Bowen’s Reading appointment, but he’s quickly become a well-liked figure amongst fans.
He’s a man with some great experiences in the game and he’s so far proved his worth – relegation seems like a distant threat now, and he can set his sights on an unlikely promotion push when the season resumes.