On-tour Owls facing mountains of graft

Return visit: Boss Gary Megson has been to Austria with Stoke and Bolton.         Picture: Steve Ellis
Return visit: Boss Gary Megson has been to Austria with Stoke and Bolton. Picture: Steve Ellis

SHEFFIELD Wednesday head back to Austria today to a base that is surrounded by lakes, mountains and woods.

But they will not have much time to sit around and admire the scenery.

Glenn Whelan

Glenn Whelan

The aim is the same as it was a year ago when Alan Irvine took the squad to Obertraun - to hone players’ basic fitness.

This time the Owls will be staying in Bad Aussee, a few miles away from last year’s centre.

They will be accommodated in a top hotel and use a pitch and facilities in the town, which is also a centre for walking and climbing.

The one match during their stay will be played around 20 miles away on Tuesday in tIrdning, against Russian team Volga Novgorod, kick-off 6pm (5pm our time). on the evening before they fly home.

Kenwyne Jones

Kenwyne Jones

Megson attaches no importance to the result and says that the game will be simply a fitness exercise, with all the players involved in some way.

He says of the five and half weeks of pre-season training: “The first thing is to get the basic fitness in; then it gets shorter and faster, and there’s ballwork every day. The idea is that we get to the first [league] game [against Rochdale at home on August 6] as fit as possible and as well organised as possible.”

The squad have already been put through their paces since they returned to work last week: with for, example, a run in nearby Wharncliffe Woods. Players have also been told that even after pre-season finished there will be one running session a week:

“You have to have that basic fitness. I tell the players this all the time: there are two things that the opposition can’t stop you doing - one is running, the other is talking and giving information, so get as good as you possibly can at those two things.”

He insists that managers do not “give a stuff” about pre-season results but he admits that he

would have liked more new signings to be going on the trip:

“It’s also about getting them all together. I had hoped we’d have more players in by now and they would be forced to be together for a week,” he said. “I’ve been to this place [in Austria] before, with Stoke and twice with Bol

ton. It’s a great opportunity. The players will love it. It’s a great hotel and they’ll want for nothihg. But it will be work hard.”

The main pre-season friendlies are against Worksop, Rotherham, Leeds, Barnsley and Stoke, whose squad includes ex-Owls Kenwyne Jones and Glenn Whelan.

Wednesday will also be sending sides to Stocksbridge, Sheffield FC, Hallam and Alfreton, and Megson says that the local clubs will be getting the gate money and that hopefully this helps to strengthen relationships.

Pre-season games: July 12 Volga Novgorod, in Austria (5pm our time); July 16 Worksop A (3.0); July 19 Rotherham A (7.45); July 20 Stocksbridge A (7.45); July 23 Leeds H (1.0); July 24 Sheffield FC A (3.0); July 26 Barnsley A (7.30); July 27 Hallam A (7.45); July 30 Stoke H (1.0); July 31 Alfreton A (2.0).

The New Year’s Eve match at Preston will kick off at 1pm instead of 3pm.