Steve Sidwell is confident his Fulham side will reap the benefits of an intense pre-season when the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign gets underway in less than a month’s time.
With high humidity and altitude to contend with, the Whites squad were pushed hard in Costa Rica, but our combative midfielder wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Of course it had an effect,” Sidwell told fulhamfc.com when quizzed on the unusual training conditions.
“It was tough in the mornings when we trained, but the sessions were short and sharp so you just had to make sure you put the maximum effort in and obviously rest when we could. Then there were the sessions in the afternoon which we put the same effort into as well, and then it was about resting afterwards – that’s important.”
Sidwell saw considerable action in Central America, clocking up plenty of minutes on the pitch and grabbing the opening goal with an accurate header in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over L.D. Alajuelense.
“It’s obviously nice to get minutes under the belt,” he admitted. “It’s pre-season so we want to work as hard as we can and the more game time you get, the better it is for the start of the season when it comes.
“I think the trick [to reaching peak fitness] is more down to games – because we had three games in a week. We’ll be back [at Motspur Park] soon to train hard and continue to work hard to build up our fitness.
“Obviously we’ve got the games [at Craven Cottage] when we’re getting close to the start of the season and everyone should be in tip-top condition by then for the start against Sunderland away.”
Going into April last season, Sidwell had been a virtual ever-present in the Fulham team, missing just three league matches, before consecutive straight dismissals – totalling a seven-match suspension – tainted the conclusion to his campaign.
It meant our number seven hadn’t played a great deal of football before our opener last Sunday, but he’s eager to recapture the form that saw him establish himself as a pivotal cog in the Fulham engine room.
“I feel really good at the minute,” he said. “Last season, for me personally, it went well. Obviously towards the end the two back-to-back red cards were a big blow, not just for me, but for the team – I let myself down, I let everyone down.
“We didn’t pick up points on that run either so I want to make up for the game time that I missed towards the end of the season. Hopefully I will this season.
“The friendly against Cartaginés was the first game I’d played in quite a while so it’s nice to be back on the pitch and raring to go. Hopefully I can start where I left off – before the red cards!”