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'It's been a strong week' - Holden

Dean Holden says he has been pleased with the work that’s taken place both on and off the training pitches in his first week as Head Coach.

Having appointed two assistant head coaches in Paul Simpson and Keith Downing, and put his players through their paces, it’s been a week of extremes in terms of weather and emotions, but it’s an experience Holden is relishing and he’s pleased with his squad’s early preparations.

Speaking to Robins TV in torrential rain on the Failand training pitches, he said: “It’s been a really strong week for us. The players only had a short time away anyway after the last game of the season, so fitness wise, they’ve come back in good shape.

“We aim to be right up there in terms of fitness in the Championship this year. There’s no easy way of making that happen, the players have got to put the work in, and we’ve pushed them hard this week. I’m pleased with the way they’ve responded.

“Keith (Downing) and Simo (Paul Simpson) have got on the grass with them (the players) and put some principles in, in terms of our defensive structure and of course our attacking play, so all in all, it’s been a good week.”

Downing and Simpson, who spoke to Robins TV earlier in the week, have been impressed with the players, their physicality and attitude, and Holden was quick to repay the compliments to the pair.

“They’ve settled in great, they’re two great communicators,” he continued. “Straight away they’re right into the football with the players and the players have got a real understanding of what’s required, even as early as the first few days. They’re good at building relationships and that’s what it’s about at this time of the season, getting to know each other, and they’ve both thoroughly enjoyed it.

“Every day we talk to the players about coming in and being the best they can be that day, don’t worry about what’s coming tomorrow and the days beyond that, and don’t worry too much about yesterday – make today’s session the best it can be. The application has been first class.

“Nothing is normal at the minute through COVID, but we’ve got to adapt. We’ve got to make sure we adapt and we’re ready for anything on and off the pitch. We’ve got some good plans in place already, a couple of friendlies announced which we are looking forward to, and there’s nothing better than getting the games started. I’m sure the players would say the same. 

The players have got to put the work in, and we’ve pushed them hard this week. I’m pleased with the way they’ve responded.

City’s management have a full squad for training, with the exception of last season’s top goalscorer Famara Diédhiou. The forward is currently following the necessary COVID-19 procedures and is continuing self-isolation following a trip to Senegal at the start of the two-week off-season.

Holden said: “We’ve got our eyes on him, he’s got his GPS equipment and he’s got a treadmill in his house so we’re making sure he’s putting the work in whether he’s with us or not. But we’re looking forward to welcoming big Fam back soon.”

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