Date: 10th July 2015 at 5:52pm
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Manager Chris Hughton has given his thoughts on our first week of pre season training out at the Alps and goalkeeper Christian Walton has spoke of his desire to get out on loan now.

Audio – Hughton & Hemed Speak

Starting with Hughton, he told the Official Site that he felt our Alps training camp had been good value in our preparations for the coming 2015-16 Championship season, but with our time out there almost at an end it means attention turns to our first pre season friendly of the summer tomorrow against FC Meyrin in Geneva.

Confirming that Andrew Crofts wouldn’t take part in this game with his own recovery from injury, Dale Stephens is also out with an illness – but in a game where he’s likely to feature two totally different sides in each 45 minutes, Sam Baldock could get a run out and a return to action.

‘The first game is about making sure we get through it with no injuries. The players will play 45 minutes each. It’s been two weeks’ hard work going into what will be our first game. Then we go into a sequence of games starting in midweek.’

Hughton went on to explain that he felt fitness wise it has been an ‘excellent week’ out for us and the players had been put through a lot of sessions in the resort of Tignes and the altitude does help that, so for this stage in our pre season build up he feels we are in a good place.

‘The aim is to get through the week with a level of fitness and no injuries. We’ve got a very good environment here. Most important is the training and the game, but it has also been an opportunity for the team to grow together and the youngsters and new players have fitted in very well. The beauty of where we are is that there is an opportunity for other activities.’

Those other activities obviously help team spirit and bonding and have included rafting as we spent two hard hours at work on the rapids and the obvious fitness benefit of that is doubled by the team orientated nature of the activity.

‘It was fun, but it was also about working in teams and getting that bond between the teams and that has been good.’

Moving on to Walton, who knows the plan is for him to spend some, if not all of the season out on loan now following the arrival of Niki Maenpaa, he said he was relishing the opportunity because the plan will be to come back to the Amex following the spell and have a real charge on being our number one stopper in the future.

‘Getting games under my belt is the main priority for me now; to go out and get that experience. I am a young goalkeeper, and there are not too many playing regularly in the Championship. So it will be beneficial to go out and play regularly. When I come back I want to push for the number one spot.’

The England under 20 international also said he was hopeful that his loan destination would be arranged by early next week so he could throw himself into pre season training with his new colleagues for the spell.

‘There are a few offers that have come in, and I think by the start of next week I should have some idea where I will be going for the first half of the season. I want to play and it will be nice to be out on loan, playing games and waking up on a Saturday and having that matchday feeling.’

Walton admits it will be a different feeling from last year as although he had the match day buzz, he knew 90% he wouldn’t be playing and would only be there on the day or on the bench, so there is a change of mentality and preparation that he’s looking forward to as well.

‘That was difficult at times, travelling all that way and being on the bench – but it was a great experience being with the first-team. When you are away in that environment – training and travelling with the first-team – I felt it helped me as player.’

He ended his interview by praising the work of last season’s goalkeeping coach Antti Niemi and talked about looking forward to working more with new coach Ben Roberts.

‘Antti was excellent to work with last season. He was really good to me and the help he gave me was invaluable. It was a really good year. I started as number three during last pre-season and was working hard to get the second spot, which I managed to achieve and it was good to get four first-team games.’

He added that his debut, in such a big game, was a really good experience for him and he knows he grew in confidence from that, but of course it’s about stepping up more now and developing and building on that.

‘I came across Ben a few times last season, and have heard lots of good things about him. When I came back I was really looking forward to working with him. His sessions are really good. It has been really intense, but enjoyable, which is important. When you’re working hard, it makes a really big difference if you are enjoying your work.’

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