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Keith Rowland Interview & Squad Update

Club News | 1 Jul 2024

The Brentwood Town first-team returned to pre-season training this weekend just gone, with the majority of the squad from last season invited back ahead of the new season. The only exceptions being Wyan Reid and Alex Akrofi, who departed the Club at the end of the previous campaign.

When asked how he was feeling after a break, manager Keith Rowland said "[ I feel] refreshed, that's for sure. I'm hoping everybody had a good break, and I'm hoping everybody is coming back healthy enough to have a hard pre-season. I'm looking forward to it.

"You don't overthink the first session. Obviously with non-league football you do have people who can't make certain sessions, but we've already spoken with the squad in general about the importance of pre-season, the importance of not missing a session and the importance of building a fitness base, because a lot of people tend to believe that coming back into pre-season is all about ball work on the first day.

"I think we base ourselves on fitness, and then we build the ball-work into it, and go from there.

Keith was also asked if he saw glimpses of good fitness and motivation from the squad after the first session "I would hope so, I wouldn't like it to be the other way. We're still one or two [players] short, who will be here on Tuesday night. We've got [three] new players that we've brought into the group which gives us a real momentum, and that's what we wanted to do.

"I build them up in preseason in terms of a fitness base first, which is endurance, and then look towards sharpening it, and then afterwards the football side of it in terms of matches and the length of game time we give to players.

The Blues narrowly missed out on promotion to the Isthmian League Premier at the end of last season during Rowland's first season in charge, and the former Northern Ireland international was quizzed on what his ideal outcome looks like for the new campaign. "Any football club you go into [the aim] is to win the league. There isn't going to be any manager in our league that won't think to themselves that they could win it or make the play-offs, because you have to have that ambition, and you need to have that drive otherwise you wouldn't be the manager or coach of a football club in our league. We're no different to any other club."

Brentwood's first pre-season fixture comes away at Saffron Walden Town on Tuesday, 11th July, meaning the squad have just under two weeks to prepare with as much of a full squad as possible.

The Blues' fixture in the Thames-Side Trophy Quarter-Final against Hashtag United has also been moved to Aveley's Parkside Stadium, which was originally due to take place at the Brentwood Arena on Saturday, 3rd August. Further details will be confirmed in due course.
"We're looking forward to it "said Rowland. "[Saffron Walden] is on a grass pitch, and obviously it has been a bit strange having to try and organise six away games - including the Hashtag United game which has been swapped to Aveley. [That game] is still on an artificial pitch and it'll be a competitive game, so our build-up will be based towards that game.

"Obviously [this fixture] is a cup competition from last season. Hashtag are a decent team, and we'll be looking to go into that game, which is roughly a week before the season starts basing ourselves off these 6 games and the sessions in-between those.
"We'll take every session as it comes, and I've said to the players that I was no different as a player. You might not be brilliant [in one session], and you might feel great in another, as long as you get yourself through.

"Try and stay away from injury because the longer you do pre-season, the more sessions you do, the fitter you get, and the less chance you get of picking up a muscular injury rather than something from a tackle, but yeah I'm really looking forward to it.

*Once the management team and first-team players have had a couple of weeks back in pre-season, and the Club is able to confirm official league registrations, we will look to confirm a further retained list. Look out for our website and social media channels for additional news and announcements*

Interview conducted by Michaela Georgopoulos.