John Ward on next week, training and JJ
Manager John Ward will be taking a squad of 24 players up to Lincolnshire for next week's training camp, a figure that includes some of the injured players, who will continue their rehabilitation programme under the guidance of physiotherapist Phil Kite and fitness consultant Mark Hammond.
"At some stage during the week," said John, "I want to play an eleven a side game within a training environment as we prepare for the game against Bath City next Friday.
"It might appear to be a large group of players, but we do have a fairly young squad and I don't really want to leave people behind because they are all going to be involved in things at some stage.
"The young players have been better than I thought they would be in the first few weeks of pre season. Our training so far has been quite intense and we have done a lot of short, sharp, work and a lot of small sided football work."
The manager hopes to give most of his players at least 45 minutes in next Friday's friendly at Twerton Park and then his side face another five games in the following two weeks.
"A number of the younger players will get the opportunity to play in some of those games and that's important. They aren't all classed as first team fixtures, so we will mix the groups up a little bit but my aim, and that of the staff, is to get everyone in as good a shape as possible for the first league game of the season, against Exeter City, on 3rd August."
John also confirmed that midfielder John Joe O'Toole remains his main transfer target, though he does have other options open to him should a deal for the former loan player not materialise.
"JJ is our priority, but the situation could go down to the wire. I do have to have an alternative in mind, though that list of players constantly changes as players find themselves another club. I think JJ is worth waiting for, and my guess is that the majority of our supporters feel the same way. If there is a chance of bringing him here then I am going to work at trying to do that."
The manager has been able to work with a settled squad in pre season, a situation he favours.
"I have been offered players, naturally, but things needed calming down here and we have had a period of 10 days or so with an enthusiastic and hard working group of players. There's a team of people here who know that while there might be one more addition to the squad, they are going to be the ones who will be given the nod come the start of the season.
"We had a lot of work to do in January, in terms of bringing players in, and the Chairman has worked hard throughout the summer in tying those players, who came in on loan or on short term contracts, to permanent deals so things are nice and calm at the moment."
John was speaking at the training ground on Thursday, and the full interview is now available on Gas Player. Also on Gas Player is an interview with striker Ryan Brunt.