Robins return to training ahead of busy pre-season

Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson

The holiday is over for Ilkeston FC’s players as they return for pre-season training this week.

A busy schedule of pre-season friendlies will begin next week with the visit of Derby County next Saturday (July 5) and the Robins squad will then host Nottingham Forest a week later.

And manager Kevin Wilson is expecting to see his squad return in good shape, not least because a new system of training will be introduced this season meaning many of the club’s players will work on a daily basis.

He said: “We sent the players away in May with a programme to follow which was aimed at keeping them in good shape, so although they’ve been able to do their own thing for a while it was in their best interests to look after themselves too.

“Pre-season is probably the toughest part of the year for most players - that was certainly the case when I was playing - as not playing games inevitably means it’s harder to get back up to speed.

“We’ll be doing our training each weekday morning now as well as the usual evening sessions on Tuesday and Thursday.

“This means the academy players and younger squad members will essentially be full-time whilst the players who have other jobs will still get to train as much as before. Some of those may even be able to join in with one or two of the morning sessions too.

“We’re keen to keep the professional mentality up and these kinds of changes will help.

“As always, the early parts of pre-season will be about fitness levels and that applies to the games we’ll play too.

“Results don’t matter but fitness does and everything we’ll do will be geared towards being ready for the start of the season on August 16.”

With regard to playing staff, Wilson says talks are still to go ahead with some members of the squad when they return for training.

One player who won’t feature will be striker Antwan Russell, who has returned to his native Bermuda following a disappointing spell with the Robins since arriving towards the end of the 2012/13 season as part of the club’s link-up with the Bermuda Hogges.

Russell’s compatriots Lejuan Simmons and Rai Simons will remain Ilkeston players, although Simons is currently with the Bermudan under-20 squad for a series of World Cup qualifiers being held over the next few weeks.

Wilson said: “Antwan has now returned home. Things didn’t quite work out for him here although there were some good moments from him and he worked hard.

“Lejaun is a talented young player who I’m looking to see push on this season having had a few games in the first team here and at Mickleover last year, while Rai will join up with the squad once he returns from his international duty in the Caribbean at the end of July.

“The link-up continues and there remains the possibility of some other players coming over in the future.

“It’s still early days in terms of the partnership and things are a bit quiet there at the moment, but the evidence so far has been positive given how the likes of Rai and Lejaun are developing.”