EASTLEIGH have taken their first steps to becoming a full-time club.
But manager Richard Hill says the transformation from a part-time to professional outfit will not happen overnight because, for one thing, not all the players can commit to it.
A healthy total of 14 first-team squad members were put through their daytime paces on Eastleigh’s all-weather pitch on Tuesday and numbers will gradually swell in the months ahead. “Over the last month (director/owner) Stewart Donald and I have had lots of discussions about where we go with this and we’ve now taken the first steps towards putting it in place,” explained Hill. “But going full-time is not something you can decide to do one day and then do the next unless you’ve got players who all fit the same criteria and, unfortunately, we haven’t “We’ve got lads in the squad who are very good players but have also got very good jobs which they are not in a position to jeopardise. We have to work around those who can train during the day and those who can’t.”
The initial plan is to hold daytime sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and then add another day before the end of the season.
Those who can’t be part of the full-time group will train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings as normal.
“We can’t just forget the other players and tell them to train on their own or say they’re not playing - that’s not the way forward,” stressed Hill.
“But any club that wants to be successful has got to train more than two nights a week.
“You can organise team shape and so on in the balmy evenings of August and September, but by the time November comes around the nights are freezing and if the players are stood around getting cold they can pick up injuries. You’ve got to keep them on the move.
“It’s all a bit rushed at night-time whereas during the day the manager gets more time to work with players and the players spend more time with each other and friendships are made.”
First-team regulars like Craig McAllister, Lee Peacock, Jai Reason, Glen Southam, Mark Hughes, Damian Scannell, Tom Jordan and Ross Flitney were involved on Tuesday - plus youngsters Cassius Newton and Corey King who have been training with first-team squad.
“It was really upbeat and I see it as a very positive thing,” said Hill.
“The catering staff were fantastic, preparing food for the lads. It was all organised fantastically by the club.”