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Interviews

Gerhard Struber on football's imminent return

4 June 2020

The latest thoughts of the Reds boss with the second week of training well underway.

First team staff and players across the Sky Bet Championship made their long-awaited return from lockdown last week, as preparations began for the likely restart of the 2019/20 season.

For the Barnsley FC Head Coach, Gerhard Struber, it's been a pleasure despite the new-look environment regards the social distancing measures in place around Oakwell.

“It’s very nice to be back." Struber told us on Wednesday evening (June 3).

"For me, for my staff and also for my players.

“I can see that my boys have followed the individual training programmes we set up for them whenwe went into lockdown, and they are looking good and ready for the challenge ahead.

“Today also, we had our first contact training, so we are getting back to something like normal.

"But I am happy to be back. I spent two months in Austria at the height of the pandemic but now it is time for us to get back to work and achieve our goals."

With a June 20 start date now pencilled in the diary, and the Reds set to travel to the nation's capital to take on playoff-chasing Queens Park Rangers, the boss believes things are looking positive for Barnsley.

But he admits that the lack of time to prepare isn't ideal, as he explained.

“The timing isn’t perfect," the Austrian stated. "I think we should have had at least 40 days to prepare as the risk of muscle injuries is very strong. I have made my point clear on this. I have a responsibility to my players.

“But I am not in control of these things.

“I am only looking forward to the big challenge that is getting my boys on the pitch and winning football games.

“I can’t tell you what is or what is not fair. I am only optimistic about our job and making sure my team is ready.

“And I have a good feeling about us.”

There will be no supporters at Loftus Road, nor in any of the other venues for these nine remaining fixtures of a broken campaign. 

Struber accepts this is yet another challenge for his young squad but one that he feels he can prepare for at a basic level.

He said: “It is a completely new idea, playing in an empty stadium, so this coming weekend we plan to have a 10v10 match on Oakwell and try to get a feeling for the scenario.

“There is a physical and tactical topic.

“We play in a high intensity fashion and so we have to be careful with our workload.

"But to play without a crowd, no atmosphere, this is a different task and one that we must try and think about before the restart.”

Despite the quick turnaround and a hundred other variables, Gerhard remains as confident and optimistic as ever, suggesting to us that he's seen good signs in the last couple of weeks, that he believes his 'boys' will be ready and able come June 20.

“My team will be ready, we will be 100%.

“I am convinced that my players will be on the limit and coming back to show the people that we have the belief and the courage to stay in the league.

“When I look into my boys’ eyes, I see a fighting spirit, a desire to fight.

“I am very hopeful with everything I’ve seen this last 10 days or so.”

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The boss finished off by updating us on a number of players with question marks surrounding their circumstances, and described a 'healthy' squad which he acknowledges will be needed with games coming every few days in such a short timeframe.

“Kilian Ludewig is with us," admitted Struber. "He’s allowed to play until the end of the season for us, and we thank Salzburg for this.

“We are in a good exchange with Sami Radlinger and we want him to stay until the end of the season. And I speak with Kenny Dougall too, and hopefully he will be here for the last games.

“Also, Toby Sibbick is back but not allowed to play for us in the final nine games.

“Everyone is fit though, we have good numbers and as I say, the feeling is good at Barnsley.”


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