Defender Discusses Pre-Season
It might the 15th pre-season of his playing career, but Stephen Crainey admits each one gets that little bit more difficult.
The 31-year-old joined the rest of his team-mates in returning to Squires Gate on Monday, ahead of a gruelling schedule of fitness work.
But for all the miles clocked up and down the byline, the left-back says he has had to be more careful than ever before to ensure he returns to training in tip-top condition.
“Everybody is different, but I feel like I have to keep on top of things more now before I come back for pre-season,” said Crainey.
“I’ve done that again in the off-season for a good few weeks and I’ve come back in good shape. It’s a tough start to the season when you look at the division and we’ll need to be in good condition to make a positive start.”
Last season’s Championship was widely believed to be the strongest the league had ever seen and with relegated Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves joining promoted sides Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield, the quality of the division shows no signs of slowing.
“It’s a bit of a cliché but the Championship is going to be one big slog again this season,” Crainey added.
“I think the Championship is a mini Premier League now because there are so many good, big teams in there who pay a lot of money on wages and transfers.
“When you look at the quality of sides that have dropped down, the quality might even be that little bit better this season, but, we know what we’re up against and we also know what we’re capable of.”
Millwall, Leeds and Ipswich make up Blackpool’s first three opponents of the season – a trio who took just two points off the Seasiders last season.
But the Scotland international says that will count for nothing come the start of the season, with the entire division desperate to hit the ground running and strike a telling, early blow.
“We’ve got Millwall, Leeds and Ipswich and we drew at Millwall only a couple of months ago on the final day of the season,” he continued.
“It’ll be a hostile atmosphere, but maybe it’s a good thing to start the season with good, early tests. We believe that we can get automatic promotion but you can’t just go out and say it’s going to happen.
“We’re desperate for the season to start to prove that we can, but a lot of other sides will be thinking the same thing.”