BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill and his players flew back to England yesterday after an intensive and very beneficial week-long Spanish training camp.
The Reds were put through their paces in the searing heat at their Benahavis training base near Marbella, with The Star having been given exclusive access to the camp.
And the week proved to be a fruitful one as Hill and his coaching staff worked hard with the players on a united blueprint for success this season, with the added bonus of a 1-0 pre-season friendly victory over St Mirren while they were abroad.
Three of the club’s four new players Ben Alnwick, Jacob Mellis and Kelvin Etuhu embraced the opportunity to get to know the new teammates, while Egyptian striker Mido stayed at home to have extra training sessions to get him up-to-speed with the rest of the squad.
The now annual Benahavis trip also proved useful for the club’s emerging youngsters – Paul Digby, Matty Steade, Danny Rose, Jordan Clark, John Stones and Lukas Lidakevisius.
With professional contracts now signed and sealed, it was a good opportunity for the younger players to impress as they look to break into the first team this season.
Tomorrow the Reds face Alfreton Town in their opening friendly of the season, followed by an away clash with Rotherham United at their newly-built New York Stadium on Saturday.
But although victories are welcome in the build-up to the start of the new Championship season next month – after the Carling Cup game against Rochdale – Hill won’t be getting carried away with results in pre-season.
He told The Star: “Pre-season is just preparation, you can’t read too heavily on any results or any performances.
“There’s encouragement but it’s a progressive development up until the Rochdale game and then that’s where I’ll really be scrutinizing the players.
“The players will then have that added responsibility of pressure.”
Defender Stephen Foster picked up a knock on the trip, but still managed to play against St Mirren, while another youngster Noble-Lazarus – who is also keen to force his way into the first-team reckoning – spent most of the week training with club physio Craig Sedgwick after suffering an ankle injury early in he trip.
But Hill is hopeful he will have a full, healthy compliment of players in time for the start of the new season.
“We’ve still got a few weeks to get everyone ready, but the new players are getting fitter and the rest of the squad have come back looking really fit.”