It is not all work and no play for the Owls in pre-season.
Head coach Carlos Carvalhal is a stickler for discipline but he has allowed his players some downtime in the Algarve as part of their six-day training camp.
After training in heat well over 30 degrees, the players have enjoyed some time off to chill out.
Some have played card games. Some have stayed indoors to keep out of the heat and watch the Open on television. Some have played pool. Some have sunbathed by the pool.
But there is a serious element to the trip. Plenty of hard graft has gone in the sessions and matches.
The players may be wearing flip-flops to walk around their training base but it is no holiday.
It is the second year in a row I have covered Wednesday’s friendlies abroad and the trips provide a unique insight into the way the team prepare for a new season. The camps are big eye-openers and I appreciate the club granting me behind-the-scenes access to their training sessions.
The attention to detail is frightening. There is a purpose to every drill. Nothing is left to chance.
Carvalhal, sporting a cap that Tony Pullis would be proud of, is a thorough, meticulous coach. He wants his team to build from the back and play at a high tempo, which wasn’t always the case last year.
Each session in the stifling heat is different. For example, the Owls initially focused on ball retention in Wednesday morning’s session. The emphasis was on touch and close control, with a group of players pressing the man in possession as fast as possible. Carvalhal expects his side to be able to handle the ball efficiently in tight areas.
There was further work on team shape and pattern and shooting practice at the back end of the day.
The majority of players who started against Portimonense sat-out yesterday’s lighter morning workout.
Carvalhal pushed his starting XI for the Farense game hard and they spent lots of time working on defending and scoring from set pieces.
Mansfield Town exposed the Owls’ defensive frailties from set plays and Carvalhal is acutely aware they must cut out those errors before the kick-off on Saturday, August 5.