Preston North End goalkeeper has said that he is enjoying being back at the training ground after a week back in training.
The Lilywhites No.1 said that despite the good weather meaning harder pitches, there were not too many differences to a normal pre-season.
“It has been a bit different – not majorly different to a usual pre-season return – just it is in smaller groups, which is the only real difference,” he told iFollow PNE. “It has been just as tough as always and when you are working that hard, you don’t really realise what is going on around you.
“From a goalkeeper point of view it has not been much different to a normal session. We are working in separate goals, staying away from each other, but we are doing the same drills, the same exercises and it is quite good to be able to get straight back into it as a goalkeeper.
“The pitches are taking a bit of a toll on the hips at the minute and it is just about getting used to the load and the pounding on your joints again, but it is kind of nice to feel that again as you feel like you are doing your work.”
Preparation for a goalkeeper puts some importance on the pre-season games, but with no matches allowed during this preparation period, how will Dec get ready for when the matches re-start?
“It is going to be different, because you do use the first three or four games of pre-season to get everything in shape, but I am experienced enough now to get myself ready to try and go from where we left off,” he explained.
“It is slightly different the training, we are doing more goalkeeper drills than fitness drills, to make sure we have got all that work in before the return of the games.
“Now we are back in and there is a date set for the return of Premier League games it gives you the realisation you are back in working towards something. In the break, when we were not allowed back in, it was hard, because you didn’t know if you were going to be back playing or when you would be back training, but now there is a little bit of a schedule back together, it is something you can set your sights on and get ready for.
“You have the start date in the calendar and you set your working weeks out to be ready for that and it gives you a focus – something to work hard to be ready for.”
The Norwich-born stopper, who signed a new contract during lockdown, says the squad have all returned in excellent shape and are looking focused ahead of nine big games: “Being back, the lads look really focused and everyone looks ready to make a good finish to what was a good start to the season,” he continued.
“It is important that we are ready to hit the ground running on the first game, because we are going to need to get some good results early on to get the momentum going again.
“Sometimes you see players come back after an off season and you can tell they have enjoyed it, but most players have come back fitter and a better condition, because at the stage of the season we were at, there were a lot of tired legs and fatigue had set in and that was starting to show in the performances and results we were picking up.
“Hopefully, the lads who were feeling fatigued and tired and playing with injuries, have got rid of that now and will have nine games with fresh legs to crack on and do what we do best.”
Games look set to be played behind closed doors when a date for getting back underway is confirmed and whilst Dec says this will be a different experience, if the side were to make it all the way to the Play-Off Final and get promotion, then it would be a sacrifice he was willing to make!
“It will be strange [to potentially play in front of no fans], but as long as you get promoted, who cares who is watching you!
“We have one aim and that is to get promoted and whether there is a 100,000 people there, or no-one there, if you have that medal and bring that trophy back to the club, it doesn’t matter who was watching, as long as you have done what you aimed to achieve and that is all that matters,” he added.
Watch the full interview with the former Norwich City goalkeeper by clicking on the link at the top of the page.