Top facilities, hard work, Wi-Fi grumbles, bike rides and paintballing - inside Town's remote German base
PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 July 2019
Ipswich Town are in Germany for their pre-season training camp. ANDY WARREN takes a look at their base, where building blocks are being laid for next season.
"There aren't many distractions where we go.
"It's just pure work. I don't like any distractions or anything like that. It's one of those ones where you go and you do the work and you work and work and you try and get everything ingrained in their heads and hopefully you get a quick start."
Paul Lambert's words in March will have told the Ipswich Town players exactly what to expect from their German tour base.
The Blues are spending two weeks at the four-star Romantik Hotel Aselager Mühle in North West Germany, and to say it's remote would be an understatement.
The hotel in Lower Saxony is surrounded by trees, flanked by fields and is an hour's drive away from the nearest city (Osnabruck) and two hours from the nearest airports (Bremen and Dortmund).
Saturday's friendly with Paderborn in Delbruck took Lambert and his side three hours to get to as they travelled through the back roads due to Autobahn closures, but the club's base is ideally located just 25 minutes from Sunday's Interwetten Cup in the nearby town of Meppen.
Town's fitness coach, Jim Henry, has been the architect of Town's pre-season and put a similar trip in place for Stoke last summer as the Potters stayed at the hotel and competed in the 2018 edition of the Interwetten Cup.
Neither Henry or manager Paul Lambert were around to implement it though after leaving the club at the end of the previous season, with Gary Rowett ultimately taking Stoke on tour.
Town's base has all the facilities you could wish for if you're looking for a romantic getaway.
There are forest walks, a gym, saunas, a wellness centre for massages and treatments, an indoor swimming pool, horse riding, restaurants and even a windmill built in 1809.
But it is also a well-regarded footballing facility with a Fifa-standard training pitch which has been used by some of Germany's top clubs as well as regularly playing host to the country's Under 21 international side.
Borussia Mönchengladbach, FSV Mainz 05, Eintracht Frankfurt, PSV Eindhoven have all used the facility in the past, while Schalke check in just a few hours after the Blues' departure next Monday.
Down to business
A total of 29 players have made the trip; the 22 who featured against Paderborn plus James Norwood, Alan Judge, Jon Nolan, Gwion Edwards and Freddie Sears, as well as young back-up goalkeepers Adam Przybek and Harry Wright.
Lambert, assistant Stuart Taylor, first team coach Matt Gill, fitness coach Henry and goalkeeping coach Jimmy Walker are all there, as are a range of analysts, medical specialists, logistical staff, a chef and a member of the club's media team.
That's a touring party of around 50.
The Blues' arrival at their base on Thursday was delayed after encountering long delays at security in Dortmund airport, but they were out on the training field bright and early the next morning.
As Lambert has stressed on many occasions this trip is all business, with the building blocks being laid for what all associated with the club hope will be a successful season.
Morning and afternoon sessions are scheduled daily, with a good mix of fitness, ball work and tactical preparation as the club gear up for the new season.
As Lambert has said, the players really are living in each other's pockets during their 12-day tour.
Evenings are spent in the hotel, with entertainment coming in the form of Toto Nsiala's piano recitals (he's actually pretty good) and Cole Skuse's 'famous' quizzes.
Unreliable Wi-Fi has been a grumble coming from the Town squad, but that hasn't stopped them posting on Instagram or huddling round laptops and iPads to watch Love Island.
Jordan Roberts has been entertaining himself by sneaking up on team-mates with an electric razor, while some members of the squad spent yesterday afternoon on a bike ride through Lower Saxony's tree-flanked roads.
A day off
It's not all work, though.
Following Saturday's game with Paderborn the players and staff had Sunday off, using that time to go paintballing.
But from here on it's back to the grind, leading up to Sunday's tournament in Meppen.
Town's touring squad
Bialkowski, Holy, Wright, Przybek, Emmanuel, Donacien, Kenlock, Clements, Chambers, Nsiala, Woolfenden, Ndaba, Nydam, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Nolan, Huws, El Mizouni, Judge, Bishop, Lankester, Rowe, Roberts, Dobra, Edwards, Jackson, Norwood, Sears