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16 August 2020



16 August 2020

Before the Reds headed to St. George's Park for a week-long training camp, we caught up with our Head of Sports Science to see how the players had got on since returning to Oakwell last week.

It feels strange to already be talking about pre-season, considering it was less than a month since the Reds' dramatic, final-day victory at Brentford. 

But players and staff returned to Oakwell at the end of last week, for a 'mini' pre-season.

Luke Dopson is charged as ever with all things fitness at Barnsley and he told us that everything has gone to plan since returning ahead of the 20/21 campaign.

“Things have been good so far,” Dopson stated.

“The lads were all really happy to be back in the building, they were keen to get going again with training, despite only having a short break. So that was good to see.

“We did a round of COVID testing for all the players and staff, just to make sure everyone was healthy before coming back together. Just to put everyone’s mind at ease I guess. And that was all-clear, which again was good to see for us.

“The lads then came back in properly on Friday, and we did a lot of fitness testing across three groups. On top of that, we had some physio testing also, which gave us some markers regards where they’re all at physically. So all in all, it was a positive return to the training ground ahead of the new season.”

With such a short break and after a hectic period of games before that, Luke believes the players are in good nick. 

It's about momentum, he reckons, with everyone hoping to kick on from that great end to last season.

“I think usually, the players get a good two months or so off at the end of a season, whereas this time it’s only been a three-week turnaround between playing our last game at Brentford and then this week’s return to training.

“So we weren’t surprised to see the boys come back in good shape.

“Which means the emphasis during this briefest of pre-seasons will be less about fitness and more about getting back at it from where we left off.

“There’ll be some element of fitness work with me, mainly in terms of building strength back up, and maintenance really. But in general, they’re in a good place after a couple of weeks of recharging the batteries and should be able to hit the ground running.”

The new 'normal' since the return to play was a challenging period for the club.

Dopson admits that it took some getting used to, as it did when playing the matches behind-closed-doors, but says the attitude of the Reds' players made the transition easier.

“We’ve got a good group here," he explained. "The players have shown that with the restart. That period taught me a lot about the players and how professional they could be when needed. Because that was a completely unique experience, totally unprecedented and it took some getting used to, for all of us.

“But actually, we found it really good as a club. We had a group of lads who were excellent at applying themselves, despite the environment being a bit strange. And happy to take on extra responsibility. For example, we weren’t able to use the gym as we’d normally have done. We weren’t able to go in there in big groups.

“And yet the players were superb in their efforts to make sure - despite only a few in at one time - that they all got their gym work in. And I think you could see with the performances in those games that we really got it right as a club, that period.”

So what about 'that' night at Griffin Park? 

We ended our catch-up with Luke by going back a few weeks to get his take on the result against the Bees and more importantly, the amazing scenes as the Reds pulled off one of the greatest of escapes.

“I think shocked is the word!” Dopson said, smiling.

"I mean, we all hoped, we all believed we could do it. After lockdown, we just really came together and had this purpose. And then the performances added to that belief.

“There was this really good feeling around the place, we were all on the same page and it just felt right.

“And right from the start, we were confident we could at least take it to the last day, and give ourselves a chance. But it’s just crazy how it all worked out. It was like a movie script with us needing a goal in the last minutes of the game.

“It was a big game for both teams though. The game meant just as much to Brentford. I think that just added to the drama, and it was an unbelievable feeling to do it how we did right at the end.

“Amazing memories for all of us involved. Even if I was the one who remained reserved on the touchline as the kit man, the analyst, the manager and his assistants all joined the pile-on!”

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