NEWTON: FINDING BALANCE
Training is now at an end for the summer tour of the USA with just one match to play. Following Friday evening's session in front of supporters in the stadium in which we take on AC Milan, assistant first team coach Eddie Newton spoke to the official Chelsea website about the aims and the methods of the work over the past few days.
For Roberto Di Matteo and his technical staff it hasn't been a case of continually ramping up the physical demands on the players as the countdown continues towards the new season. A careful approach has been needed with some adaptation along the way.
'You have to know when to step it up and when to take the heat out of it because if you don't take the heat out of it, that is when you are going to pick up injuries,' Newton explained.
'You have to take into account the players are not used to training in this kind of temperature so it is a fine balancing act and most of the time we have got it right. We are very happy to this point that we have had very little in the way of injuries.
'You can't go into training without a plan,' he added, 'but there is always a contingency in there to take some training away. You have to look at the players and if they are struggling you say okay, we will cut that session or we will take some minutes off that session because they are looking tired.'
A low injury count during the two weeks has made it simpler to assign the desired amount of playing time to each player but with staggered returns due to Euro 2012 involvement, that has needed careful planning too. Just Branislav Ivanovic, who was not involved the summer's international tournament, has played a 90-minute game so far and although others will have longer on the pitch against Milan than in the previous three games, it will be for the visit to Brighton next weekend that Newton expects the players to be close to full match fitness.
However pre-season is not only about physical preparation, and when it comes to perfecting the football played, the pitch in Miami could not be better. Everyone who has tried the surface in training has been singing its praises.
'It is not like anything we have played on back in England,' Newton said.
'We play on some fantastic pitches in England but the grass here is amazing. It grows across rather than straight up so it looks thicker than it is and it is a lovely surface. The ball does everything you want it to on it.'
Tickets are available for the game.