Christmas message for Ipswich footballers
IPSWICH Knights head coach Andy Ogden has a simple message for his Premier League players heading into the Christmas break: Relax but don't overdo it.
Having focused on team fitness in recent weeks, Ogden was keen for his 2019 senior squad to maintain a level of fitness over the break.
The players had data recorded on their pre-season progress before entering the Christmas break.
And while that information won't be used against players hoping to line up in next year's Football Queensland Premier League competition, Ogden expected his charges to build on what they've already achieved.
"We basically had six weeks prior to Christmas,'' the new Knights head coach said.
"They were just getting some kilometres under the belt. Just getting everyone to a level where they can play at least 45 minutes.
"We've asked the boys to maintain a certain level of fitness.''
A squad of up 40 first-team and under-20 players has been training twice a week and in weekend sessions during the pre-season.
But with the 2019 Premier League competition starting a bit later than usual, Ogden was keen to manage his team's build-up carefully.
"That's why we've tapered it before Christmas,'' the experienced coach said.
"We don't want to overdo it too early.
"We didn't want to be getting to a point where we were really, really buzzing and then all of a sudden you've got two or three weeks off.
"We've just taken it nicely and the boys will have a little bit of a break while maintaining a decent level and then we'll come back and we'll be keen.''
After the senior squad returns the first week of January, the Knights will play a game against Palm Beach at the Gold Coast.
That will be the first of a series of games leading into the Premier League competition.
"Guys will get a good opportunity to show what we want,'' Ogden said.
"What the coaching staff are looking at is 'that player might be a very good player but does he fit into what we want to do?'''
Recent Knights signing include former National Premier Leagues (NPL) defender Corey Lucas, Souths recruit Jack Cabasi and ex-Southside Eagles defender Ben Taylor.
The Ipswich club has also secured former South West Thunder NPL utility attacker Nick Edwards.
Yet to finalise his main senior team squad, Ogden was excited about the challenge looming in the new year.
"We're not getting carried away,'' he said.
"We've got good numbers. It's a lot better in relation to atmosphere and desire to last year.
"We've started off with a good base and everyone seems to be buzzing.
"It's going to be really, really difficult for anyone to get into the team, which is exactly what you want.
"Guys who were walk-up starts last year know how hard they're going to have work to get in the team.
"The team changes from week-to-week and month-to- month and we're going to need a good strong squad to be competitive. That's what we're aiming for.''
The 2019 FQ Premier League draw will be released in the new year.
Christmas drinks and strategy chat
EXPERIENCED Ipswich coach Andy Ogden is pleased to see the Knights new technical director Jason Buchanan getting on with the job.
Having only started his role in October, the former Scottish youth team international player has been busy overseeing the club's senior and junior programs.
"Jason has settled in nicely and he's a genuine football person,'' Ogden said, preparing for his Christmas break.
"And when you get people like that, it doesn't take a lot for people to fit in.''
Buchanan, 46, worked with former Socceroo Craig Moore before joining the Knights.
Ogden and other senior Knights coaches and officials were planning a quiet drink with Gold Coast-based Buchanan over the break.
But typical of Odgen, it won't be just enjoying a sip of his favourite brew.
"We'll have a couple of beers and go over a few strategies we've got going on,'' Ogden said.
"He's a good guy and he definitely fits in with what we are about.
"I think he'll be good for the club.''