Under 18s in Portugal: Day One
- 24 July 2012 15:00
- Posted by Mark Booth
The first team aren’t the only City side jetting off across the world this summer to prepare for the season ahead – the under-18s have arrived in Obidos, Portugal for a ten day training camp.
It’s a young Blues squad that has made the trip, consisting of a mix between older under-16s, first-year scholars, with just a few second years thrown in for good measure.
The party includes strength and conditioning coaches, a transport co-ordinator, a goalkeeping coach, two performance analysis coaches, a doctor, two physios, a skills coach, two kit men, your humble scribe here and many more.
This morning, the team descended onto the carpet-like surface at the Praia de Luz football complex and split into two groups of outfielders and goalkeepers.
Roy Tunks has coached Shay Given and Brad Friedel in his time as a goalkeeping coach and he lead Angus Gunn, Billy O’Brien and Liam Sharpe through a series of drills designed to test their reflexes, shot-stopping and recovery time.
Meanwhile, Adam Sadler, Simon Davies and Kristian Wilson split the team into groups based on their positions - defence, midfield and attack. They then worked at various small-sided possession and shape-based games. All under the watchful gaze of the Performance Analysis team.
With the sun beating down, it was hard work for all concerned so there were plenty of drinks breaks to make sure the boys were hydrated. Towards the end of the session, there was a larger game over half the pitch, during which first-year scholars James Hardy and Ashley Smith-Brown really caught the eye.
Hardy’s neat footwork and eye for a pass was a constant source of menace to the opposing side, while Ashley Smith-Brown’s quick, incisive work from the flanks was the stuff of nightmares for full-backs.
It was a relatively smooth flight over from Liverpool to Lisbon last night, with only one forceful but, thankfully, short-lived, burst of turbulence causing momentary panic in the cabin.
With rooms looking out to the North Atlantic Ocean, set against this medieval town near the city of Leiria, it’s little surprise to find that Adam Sadler’s team aren’t the first football team to make base here.
At a post-dinner meeting, Head of Academy Mark Allen revealed that the Portuguese national team had stayed at this hotel and used the very same training facility located some ten minutes away before Euro 2012.
At that same meeting Mark emphasised just how lucky the squad was to have the opportunity to stay, train and play in such incredible surroundings. Sentiments I can certainly echo given my first impressions of the facilities.
This afternoon, the team will have a second training session in preparation for their matches against U.D Leiria, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica on Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday respectively. We'll bring you coverage of those matches here in the Academy section of the site.