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INTERVIEW: Mark Robins discusses the pre-season schedule and Rangers fixture

16 July 2020

Manager Mark Robins has spoken about the pre-season schedule, as the Sky Blues began their training ahead of the 2020/21 Championship season this week.

The Manager reflected on the difficult circumstances that everyone is going through at this time, and how it has affected the planning and mindset for the Sky Blues' pre-season.

“For everybody it’s been hard work because the uncertainty of everything that everyone has been going through makes it difficult to plan,” said Robins.

“For businesses outside of ours, with three years of Brexit and trying to plan and prepare for that and on the back of that a new Government and then a change in circumstances regarding the COVID crisis and the pandemic we’ve been going through – the whole landscape has changed and it makes it difficult for everybody. It pales into insignificance against all that, but our professional life means everything to us and the supporters.

“Promotion has been brilliant. It’s been something we wanted to achieve and we did that, unconventionally, but whichever way in my opinion we were going up – we were the best team in the division.  We were really good and the players deserve enormous credit for it.

“Trying to plan and prepare for a pre-season is really difficult against that set of circumstances. We have tried to plow on as best as we can do, with the support of the Club – which is what you need, and we need that backing to keeping moving forward.”

The Sky Blues returned to Ryton this week, while last week a behind-closed-doors friendly with Rangers at Ibrox was confirmed. However with the start date of the Championship season still to be confirmed, Robins admitted that planning has been harder than usual.

“The dates of training have been difficult,” the Manager said.

“We had to put a game in, the Rangers one which has been confirmed now, and it is a fantastic game but it’s early for us. They’ll be a week away from their season and we’ll be in the second/third week of our pre-season, so it will be a tough challenge.”

With a longer than usual pre-season and the EFL fixture dates still up in the air, Robins and his team have had to adapt their usual approach to pre-season to suit the new circumstances.

“We’ve split pre-season into two phases,” explained Robins.

“The first phase is really familiarisation with the movements again because they’ve been off for so long – though they’ve been doing some individual work at home, it’s just not the same.

“We’ll open up the spaces and then have to go and perform at a good level at Ibrox. The game is live, so it will be brilliant for everybody, but not to look too deeply into it because it’s just a fitness exercise for us and for them it’s serious stuff.

“We’re going to stay up in Scotland for a few days, play the game and then come back. After that we’ll have a week training and have an in-house game just between ourselves during training, and then we’ll probably have a break then come back maybe seven days later to finish pre-season off – but that depends on when the season will actually start, which we don’t know just yet.

“It’s been tough to plan. We have some games lined up against some EFL teams, and some other midweek games against Under 23s sides too.

“It all has to be flexible because we’ve had too many unknowns, but the biggest thing for me was getting the first game in against Rangers which then gave me a focal point to work around and have a bit of certainty.”

Read more from the Manager tomorrow in the next part of our interview.


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