The Ebbsfleet United squad returned to training yesterday following their enforced two-week break with manager Dennis Kutrieb declaring “the pitch is where we want to be”.
Gym sessions were the first order of the day for the returning squad before the boots and footballs were out ahead of competitive game sessions on the training ground.
The club management and medical staff were pleased at the shape the players had returned in, with fitness plans issued over the fortnight of self-isolation.
“It’s not easy because we had a few Covid issues so it was not easy to give them plans,” said Kutrieb. “So now we have an important week to go, for the next five days, and then we start with the game against Havant.
“All the players are back and ready and all want to play on Saturday. As you can see today in our game everyone is ready and wants to go for Saturday. They can’t wait and that’s really good for us, that we can pick the right starting 11. We have a few days to go and can work on different things we want to achieve.
“It’s a great feeling [to be back]. Always to be on the pitch is the best and the boys are happy as well. So we can’t wait to go.”
The fixture schedule has allowed Fleet a full week of training ahead of resuming match action on Saturday, whereas some clubs – including next weekend’s opposition – have games this midweek.
“That’s really good,” said the boss. “It’s always hard for the boys to come back after two weeks but I see they’re fresh, they want to go, they love to play football and they love what they do. Havant have played six, seven games over the last few weeks, they play [again] on Wednesday. So they are in the rhythm, they know how to play, they’re prepared for us, for sure. But we’ll look at our boys and have them ready for Saturday, I’m very positive.”
With three matches postponed as a result of the recent isolation, Fleet will now play those games across three weeks in January and Kutrieb knows that will be a rigorous challenge and one the whole squad relishes.
“The biggest point is preparing the boys for the next game in five days,” he said. “But then we have to prepare them for the next six or seven weeks. To the end of January we have 12 games, and that’s a tough time for us, with big games ahead. The first is Havant on Saturday, that’s a massive game for us and then it’s week by week and we have to deliver.”
By then, of course, the hope is that supporters may be allowed to return. Saturday’s visitors, coming from Tier 2, have already welcomed fans back to their Westleigh Park home and Kutrieb hopes it won’t be much longer until the Kuflink Stadium can do the same.
“I hope every day that we can get them back in,” he said, “but at the moment we are not allowed to have them in so we have to wait a few weeks more… but hopefully not too long!”