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Hughton's Irish diary

Posted on 4 June 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

In a special diary feature, our first team coach and Ireland's assistant boss Chris Hughton gives us the inside view into how the Republic prepare for crucial Euro 2004 qualifiers against Albania and Georgia.

Chris, capped 53 times by Ireland, was handed his new role as assistant to Brian Kerr by the FAI in February.

He is currently with the Irish squad - including Stephen Carr and Robbie Keane - as they prepare to take on Albania and Georgia in Euro 2004 qualifying Group 10.

Chris has agreed to give us an inside view to international week and we start with his thoughts up to Tuesday night.

PREPARATIONS are well underway for what are two very important games for us against Albania on Saturday and Georgia next Wednesday.

We met up last Saturday and travelled to a place called Carrickmacross, which is probably about an hour from Dublin. We based ourselves in a nice hotel there with good facilties and training pitch. We trained Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and will leave for Dublin on Wednesday.

We'd already been together for six days in Dublin before the players had a week off, so the first couple of days back at Carrickmacross were very much an introduction back into training although it also incorporated some sort of pattern related to the game.

Even though you are training hard enough, you can't go mad early on because you tend to get a little stiffness. Although the lads had ticked over, they hadn't done anything for a week. We've two games and there is a lot of stuff we want to get over to the players but you can't end up having too many sessions.

The way to look at it is that it has been a long, hard season, the fitness of the players at the end of that couldn't be questioned so in a short period of time you are not going to lose that. It's a balance of working them hard enough to maintain the fitness but not taking too much out of them because we've two hard games in a four-day period.

The training at Carrickmacross has very much been down to business. The time together in Dublin was a bit more relaxed and the players were able to see their families and friends. Even though they were with us for all the lunches and dinners, they were able to do that.

It's been a little different at Carrickmacross. This is where the serious business has begun. The players appreciate that, the importance of the games and the discipline that goes with it. The lads were able to play golf on the Sunday, some did, some didn't, but it's been about training and getting as much rest in as they can.

These international weeks can be difficult. I've seen it from both sides and from the players point of view there is a lot of spare time and it can be quite boring at times. When we're in Dublin, the lad who takes care of our stats and videos will have films and dvds with him and that all helps. We'll also have a group night out at the cinema.

We travel to Dublin on Wednesday, when we'll play a friendly against our Under-21s. There are lots of ways you can go. England only have one game and they've taken in one friendly at home and will now concentrate on the main game. We'll play our under-21s and that will be competitive enough because they are a good group and players who want to push into the main squad. Then we'll be looking closer at Albania.