AFTER last season’s EFL League One and Two campaigns ware curtailed because of the Covid-19 pandemic that has been wreaking havoc on the whole world for the last seven months it has been good to get back playing and to some sort of normality since we went back to pre-season in August. Our daily training routines have changed massively as we follow the new rules in social distancing around the training ground to try do things as safely as possible to make sure none of our players or staff catch Covid.
Although we are tested regularly at our club and we all continue to follow the guidelines laid out to us by the government and the EFL no matter how careful we are it is inevitable that there will be times when players will test positive for Covid as we are seeing at other football clubs so far but hopefully we can limit the spread from our club. It is important that every club treats Covid as seriously as they should because the last thing, we want is another lockdown. If another substantial lockdown were to happen, it would probably be the end of quite a few clubs which nobody wants to see.
While all that is happening off the field, on the field things have been excellent for us since we started the season. we are unbeaten in the league and have made history once again by reaching the fourth round of the Carabao Cup for the first time in the club’s history. On the way we have beaten Cambridge United (who are unbeaten in League Two so far) and two Championship teams Swansea and Watford quite comprehensively so it has been quite the journey so far. We are very hopeful of it not ending just yet and we have another chance of a giant killing as we face Newcastle United Wednesday night live on Sky Sports. Of course it is going to be a very tough game for us and we are massive underdogs but that is a role that we have been able to play extremely well over the past three seasons since I signed for the football club. Newcastle are coming into the game off the back of a 7-0 victory in the last round of this competition against Morecambe and then on Sunday they scored 97th minute equaliser away to Spurs to sneak a point. Steve Bruce will be viewing this game as a great chance for his team to get to the last eight of the competition and to be only two games away from a European position too which is what the Newcastle fans have been craving recently.
One of our biggest assets during those cup runs have been the home fans in Rodney Parade spurring us on but obviously because of restrictions at the minute no supporters are allowed into games so we will be without them helping us on Wednesday but we know they will all be glued to their tv’s and shouting us on. The club will be losing out on quite a bit of money during this cup run as at least two of these games would have been sell outs but thankfully we have got the small consolation of the game being picked for live TV coverage so that will be very pleasing for our board members.
As I said we have started the season very well and that is down to some excellent recruitment and a brilliant pre-season where our fitness levels have been extremely high. During the lockdown and off season we were all given fitness programs to do and all but one player came back and we were flying fit to start with so it gave us more time to work on different things rather than just concentrating on the fitness side of it for a week which was massive. The new players came in and they have all gelled very quickly too and the squad seems to have a lot more depth than any squad that I have been involved in during my previous three seasons. There is still a lot of work to do though to be successful and we will need a lot of luck to make sure we do not get big injuries to key players like we had last season. If we can get that luck then the sky is the limit for this squad but it is important for us to not get carried away and as clichéd as it sounds but to take it one game at a time.
The Pádraig Amond appears every week in the Carlow Nationalist