Sheffield Wednesday: Fit Owls fly high

Alex Amstrong is impressed by the players' conditioning
Alex Amstrong is impressed by the players' conditioning
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Wednesday players’ fitness is on the up, reports the club’s director of performance, Alex Armstrong.

Players are in better shape than at the same stage last year.

This week’s Middlewood fitness session with Johnny Nelson and boxing coaches was just one element of the intensity and variety of the work undertaken by the players.

Each had an individual three-week programme to complete before pre-season proper got under way.

“Everyone has come back in better condition than at the same stage last year, and they were in good condition then.” said Armstrong.

“We’re virtually at match pace and looking sharp, and there are still nearly five weeks to go. Last year we were a League One team coming into the Championship; this year most of them have had a year of Championship games and training, so they’re on a different level - and they’re flying.”

Armstrong met Nelson at a function, and there were already links between the 46-year-old former WBO champion and the club, as he is an Owls fan - he was among the guests at the club’s Player of the Year evening at Hillsborough in 2012.

Further boxing-style training sessions are planned to complement the more orthodox football work.

“We’ll do it when we can, throughout the season,” said Armstrong. “The sports are similar in some ways: you need discipline and determination.

“We also do a lot of light weights, muscle endurance and speed of movement in football, and that’s what is needed in boxing as well.”

Nelson told The Star: “The lads did enjoy it, and so did I. I was talking to them as much as working with them.

“When you’re allowed to hit someone, it’s controlled aggression; you get tired but you still have to think straight. They work for 90 minutes in a game but still have to think tactically.”

Johnny is retired from the ring but still trains at least four times a week.