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Haines: City's new squad is top quality
10:43am Friday 16th August 2013 in Local Sport
CENTRAL defender Mark Haines claims Dean Holdsworth’s new-look Chelmsford City squad “can’t wait” to get the 2013/14 season under way.
The Clarets start at Farnborough this Saturday, followed swiftly by an exciting home match against newly-promoted Essex neighbours Concord Rangers on Monday night at Melbourne Stadium.
Haines is one of just four players remaining from last season following the natural summer turnover, further catalysed by a change of manager from Glenn Pennyfather to former Premier League star Holdsworth.
Haines is pleased with the calibre of player his new boss has brought in, as well as the team’s overall preparation for the forthcoming campaign.
“We’re pleased with how we’ve done in the warm-up games,” he reflected.
“We’ve been playing a high level of teams from the football league and sometimes it’s harder to face sides who play the ball along the floor, so that has benefitted us.
“Now the boys can’t wait for the competitive games to start because the pressure will bring out the best in us.
“It’s going to be a long year, so the first few results won’t necessarily shape the whole season but it’s always good to start with a win or a draw and get points on the board.
“Every game in this league is tough and we’ll train on Thursday and go to Farnborough with a plan. Dean likes pattern play and ensuring everyone knows exactly what they’re doing.
“Then we have Concord on Monday, and it’s important we set the tempo because we’re at home.
“An early goal for us could be crucial as they’ll be right up for the game. Our new players are all aware of the significance of the match as a local derby because, when you join a new side, you always familiarise yourself with the club and your local rivals.”
Wholesale changes have given the Clarets the best preparation for the newly-named Skrill Conference South division.
Mark continued: “Hopefully in the first few games we’ll get some early wins which will bring us even further together and take some pressure off.
“I’ve been impressed with everyone we’ve brought in. Danny Webb is a good player and a good man off the pitch too. I’m also mates with Kieron St Aimie, who I used to play youth team football with.
“We only have a few players left from last season but we still have an excellent dressing room atmosphere. There are some loud boys in there!”
In pre-season the Clarets have been defeated by Norwich City and Leyton Orient but they managed to draw with a strong Southend United side.
A win over Redbridge was welcome and they’ve had useful workouts against Heybridge Swifts and Tottenham Hotspur, the latter on Tuesday night at Melbourne in front of a healthy attendance.
As reigning Player of the Year, Haines now has a label to maintain but he has no intention of resting on his laurels after an excellent campaign last term, emerging from a loan spell at Bishop’s Stortford at the end of the previous year to nail down a regular starting place under Pennyfather.
After a summer break, Haines feels personally back to peak fitness having been put through a rigorous pre-season schedule alongside his team mates.
“I’m definitely having to prove myself again to Dean, but nothing’s changed because you have to prove yourself at the start of every new season,” he added.
“I think I’ve done enough to earn a place in the starting 11 again, just like everyone else. Dean’s been working us hard, and we’re within the last week now so we’re all back to top condition.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of core stability work but it’s not all been fitness and running, we’ve been doing our ball work too.
“The new 3G pitch at Melbourne Park really is a top notch facility – if only we’d had that to use a lot earlier.
“Dean is very professional in the way he expects us to get things done. He’s a great manager and coach who’s been there and done it before.”
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