Our goal is simple: To win every game – FCV coach Ben Watts
The festive period is upon us, and the FCV Academy squad can enjoy two weeks off before coming back together on 3rd January 2017.
It’s a welcome break for the squad both mentally and physically – they’ve already played a massive 28 matches since the start of the season.
The squad were put through a number of fitness tests prior to their departure and will be re-tested upon their return so, if they’re sensible, there won’t be the second helping of turkey or the extra roast potato on Christmas Day!
Fitness has been highlighted in the past by the coaching team as a key factor to the success of the squad and something they take very seriously.
Therefore, head coach Ben Watts is confident his players will be wise throughout their time off.
"It’s down to the players to look after themselves during the break," said Watts. "If they want to play, they’ll keep themselves fit.
"They’ll be tested again when they come back in, we know the records for each player across our different fitness tests, and as soon as we start training we’ll be able to see who’s behaved.
"The break can work one of two ways for a group of players like this.
"It can completely refresh them and they come back keen which I think they will, but I’ve witnessed in the past where they come back slowly and it takes a while because they’ve been home with their families and became complacent.
"The discipline and fitness of the players has come on leaps and bounds, though. We’ve introduced the extra gym sessions and strength and conditioning training to bring more professionalism to the set-up.
"The family time is important but I’m confident the squad will come back fit and ready."
The Academy currently sit just four points off the top of the National League U19 Youth Alliance division; they're joint-top of the English Colleges League, and are unbeaten in the Central Reserve League Cup.
It’s been a successful first half to the season, and Watts is well aware of that fact, but the former Northampton and Peterborough coach knows there’s a lot more to come from the side.
"We’ve seen big improvements in the squad from where they were back at the start of the season," he explained.
"The team has gelled well and we’re sitting nicely across the divisions. We’re very pleased with where we are.
"We’ve shown that we can play different types of football, too - we like to get the ball down and play it from the back but at times we’ve had to go back to basics and we’ve done both well. That’s a promising sign.
"After Christmas, our goal is simple: To win every game we play.
"When the boys come back they need to hit the ground running and the new faces in the squad will help that - we’re hoping for around six to 10 players that can come in.
"It keeps everyone on their toes and gives the squad a lift.
"If we win something at the end of the season that’d be great and we want more professional fixtures to get some of these boys seen by scouts and coaches at pro clubs."