Head of Fitness Damien Doyle is expecting the players to continue their hard work heading into their final five friendlies.
The Dons are now halfway through their pre-season matches having, last week, played five games in just seven days. In the next fortnight, Karl Robinson’s men face another gruelling fixture pile-up, with the side having to navigate their way past Brackley Town, Plymouth Argyle, Rayo Vallecano, Barnet and a Tottenham Hotspur XI all before the League opener away at Shrewsbury Town on August 3rd.
Doyle, who is the man tasked with getting the players ready for that League 1 opener next month, revealed to mkdons.com that the team are far exceeding their pre-season fitness performances from last season and that he is confident they’ll be ready for the trip to Greenhous Meadow in three Saturday’s time.
Doyle said: “We’re coming towards the back-end of pre-season now and players are hitting scores of around 11, 12 and even 13 kilometres in games. Three back-to-back games in Ireland was a big, big ask and it’s the first time we’ve set it up that way, but this year has been progressed, as every year has, to try and test them a little bit more.
“Me and Tom (Bromley, assistant sport scientist) have asked bigger questions of the lads, the intensity of the sessions has been greater and that includes morning gym sessions as well as on the pitch. The lads have responded really well to it although there has been a bit of moaning but that’s expected in pre-season. When we look at our distances covered and all the results recorded, we’re far exceeding last year.
“I think anybody who has seen the games will have seen the physical output from the players and regardless of the results, it’s been phenomenal. In this heat, some of lads have had to consistently play 90 minutes back-to-back so I’m over the moon with them all.
“I’d like to give a special mention to Luke Chadwick, George Baldock, Daniel Powell and Dele Alli, who, on a daily basis, are the top four trainers every day. When they’re putting up the results they are you’ve got to put your hands up and say that they’re leading the group.
“The four of them have worked exceptionally hard this pre-season but they’re not the only ones. There are others who have worked hard but those four have stood out in terms of their results and it’s no surprise that people have started to pick them out for their good performances too.”
With just over two weeks to go until the Football League season gets underway, training will now become more technical and tactical-based but Doyle insists the hard graft will still remain.
“It’s all about progressing the games now. We handicapped the players before the Newport Pagnell and Leighton games on the weekend and we’ll do the same for Brackley tonight. The players trained yesterday and had a power-based session so we’re expecting them to go into the game fatigued. Then we’ll start to ease off them and the game preparation will become more tactical and technical.
“The first game of the season is worth three points, just as it is for the last game and the 23rd game so we’re expecting our players to be as close to tip-top condition as possible heading into the trip to Shrewsbury. We need to be ready and that’s the reason why we’ve come back early to make sure that’s possible. We need the players to be firing on all cylinders.”