Exeter City’s Under-18s have enjoyed a positive week on the training pitch as they continue to recover from their recent COVID-19 setback.
Speaking to a buoyant Chad Gribble, the Under-18s Head Coach admitted that the youth side were making the best of a bad situation, and that progress had certainly been made over the past week.
“We have a strategy in place, and everything is going plan. The group size increases nearly every day with players returning from their isolation. This period that we have been given has so far been useful for the players because we're making sure that they are returning to training at the right time, and as safely as possible after all of the symptoms that they had displayed before. It has allowed us to add details to the players' training, and recondition the individuals who had self-isolated, as well as those who had COVID-19 themselves. Overall, I feel we are ending this week in a really good place.”
Friday saw Exeter City’s Under-23s defeat Plymouth Argyle U23s in the Premier League Cup, with several members of Gribble’s squad taking part in the contest to again work towards full match sharpness. Nothing replicates a high intensity quite like a match, and despite other U18s not being involved in the fixture at Home Park, those others may enjoy a taste of some competitive action next week when the Under-23s play Swansea City U23s at St James Park.
“Some were involved in Friday's game, however, those who weren’t trained with us, and they may get some competitive minutes in against Swansea U23s next week ahead of our match against Cheltenham Town U18s. We’re fully aware that whilst it is good to give the boys some training game time, nothing is quite like competitive game time, and, returning to our normal league fixtures, we know Cheltenham will have played a few more games than us, and we will be behind them in terms of match minutes. We’ve done what we can, but we won’t truly see where we are at until we take to the pitch next week. Over the next 7-10 days, training real-life scenarios will be important because we need to be ready for those types of situations.
“Overall I am pleased with the players’ approach since their return. Playing catch up with the fixtures does make our calendar a bit hectic, but despite the games coming thick and fast, we will find a way. We faced a similar thing last year, and just like real-life professional football, playing two games a week brings a dash of realism to our schedule. Other clubs have had these kinds of disruptions in the past, and now it is our turn. We'll do what we can when another club goes through a similar thing because these are difficult times for the football community, particularly at youth level, so we have to do our best to come together to make the best of a bad situation and help try and give these young players a chance to chase their dreams."