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How We’d Love To Be In Ayia Napa

After finding out our league game against Southampton at home was called off Gary Issott managed to arrange another game for us instead against Leyton Orient on Saturday morning.

Thinking that our Youth Cup game would still be able to go ahead Gary thought it was important for us to get a game in beforehand so that the players could get a game under their belt and get back in ‘game mode’.

A lot of the lads haven’t played a game since before Christmas, where we lost 2-0 to Ipswich Town, so it has been quite a long time. I’m lucky in that I played in the friendly game at Wycombe two weeks ago so I was quite sharp and felt ready.

Tottenham Hotspur let us use their indoor facility at Chigwell, which is a full size 2G indoor pitch.

Hardly any games across the country were able to be played, so even though it was indoors it was still good to get a game in. We won the game 2-1 with Mick Jones and Jim Stannard in attendance so it was good to be able to play in front of them.

We played three halves of 30 minutes so that everyone got at least an hour’s game time and I played the first and last halves.

I thought I played pretty well and enjoyed the opportunity to be playing a game . It’s weird playing on astro turf as it almost doesn’t feel like you’re playing a match – it feels more like training. We were lucky to have got a game in, and thanks to goals from Matt Parsons and Jon Williams we came away with a good win.

They only scored their goal after we went down to 10 men when Parsons went off with a dead leg.

We had four subs on the bench but inside the dome it was freezing, so as soon as they knew they weren’t playing the last half they shot off to the changing rooms to warm up.

Quite frankly I don’t blame them! Going down to ten men for the last 15 minutes wasn’t the worse thing in the world as it made us all have to run that little bit more, which should only be beneficial for our fitness.

Jonny had another good game for us and took his goal really well, but I will refrain myself from talking about him too much this week before people start to think he’s paying me!

We are lucky at Palace to be able to use the Dome at the National Sports Centre, so we have still been able to train despite the weather.

It has meant a much earlier start for us though as both the youth team and the first team have been using the facility.

We have to work around the first team so instead of our usual 10:30am start we have been starting at 9am before clearing off at 11 to make way for the first team.

We have done a few technical sessions in the snow in the afternoons at the training ground which has been good, but trying to do much else on the snow isn’t very worthwhile. You can hardly keep your footing and the risk of picking up injuries increases.

Although saying that, playing on astro turf can increases the risk of injury, so either way you play it you are taking a risk. It hasn’t been too bad so far, but I do feel much more achy and stiff after training.

A few players have picked up some strains and a bit of tendonitis, they’re not serious injuries by any means, but we just have to make the best out of the situation we find ourselves in.

It was disappointing that our youth cup game has been called off tomorrow as we have been looking forward to it, and felt we would be much better prepared than Derby.

They would have had to travel a long way and would not have been able to train and play as much as we have. When they found out the game was called off I’m sure they were delighted.

Some of us have been able to play two games after Christmas whereas they are likely to have played none. It’s frustrating but come sun, rain, snow, hail (whatever the good old English weather decides to throw at us!) we feel very confident in beating them. We will now just have to wait to find out when the game has been rearranged for and focus on it when the time is right.

Before then we must plan ahead to our league game this Saturday and make sure we prepare correctly and in the right way, which we have been doing all season.

I’d be very surprised if our game against Norwich away goes ahead but you never know what will happen between now and Saturday so we just have to wait and see.

I’m hoping we’ve had the worst of the snow now and it starts to clear away as it causes a lot of problems and a big change in our routine. My close friend at Motherwell has been lucky enough to be out in Cyprus for the past two weeks doing some warm-weather training, so he has missed all of it.

Oh how we’d all love to be in Ayia Napa right now…

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