Falkirk: McKinnon impressed with shape of squad

Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season.
Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season.

Ray McKinnon praised the conditioning and professionalism of his new-look squad on their return for pre-season training.

Falkirk are based at Stirling University for their training camp, and the new team-mates – most with a prior working relationship with the manager – met for the first time as Bairns.

And while it is a group tight on numbers, McKinnon has brought in several trialists for a look and to help in his squad drills while the base of his League One title challenge gel on, and off, the training ground.

The boss told The Falkirk Herald: “We’re absolutely delighted with the way the guys have come back from their break, they have returned for pre-season fit, they are continuing to get fitter and they have really taken care of themselves over their break.

“We knew they were good professionals but we are really delighted with them and the training has been excellent. The attitude and atmosphere is fantastic, and the new players have all gelled. It has been a really enjoyable start to the hard work and the quality on display has been really high.”

Tucked away on the University pitches the Bairns are putting in the hard graft in very pleasant surroundings, and on grass too. They’ll only play six times on a natural surface next term – on away days to Stranraer, Dumbarton and Peterhead – but that wasn’t the main focus of removing the new players from the Stadium

. Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season. (picture: Michael Gillen)

. Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season. (picture: Michael Gillen)

“We brought them up here for a different environment,” the manager added. “It’s isolated but a fantastic facility. It’s an opportunity for us to bond and has been great. We train at the Stadium all season, this is just a bit of a change while we can.

“It is sometimes easier on the joints when the grass is like it is just now and a bit softer than the artificial surface and it hopefully helps to minimise injuries, but that was not a key factor in deciding to come here, it was more the environment up here which is the most important thing.”

But as pleased as he is with the setting, he’s even more optimistic about the subjects. McKinnon has recruited a strong core on two-year deals and while there are additional players on the pitch, he won’t rush into adding more even with games beginning next week with two closed door games and then a trip to Brechin on July 9.

He said: “The calibre of players we have here are all excellent Championship players at the very least. They have stepped down to League One with us for a reason and bought into a vision that we want to win the league this year and challenge next year.

Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season. (picture: Michael Gillen)

Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season. (picture: Michael Gillen)

“Tidser, Telfer, Buchanan, Doyle had big options in the Championship but they decided to come here. That is the sort of quality we have brought here and that is the high standards of player that this club deserves.

“We’ll be patient and when we add to them we’ll make sure they’re the right people.

“I am not panicking and jumping in to sign anyone, we are still patient but we’ll get it right for the long season ahead. We want to get the players right for the months this term, not just the few games that are coming up.

“We are still short on bodies so we will try and bring in trialists to help us along. We don’t want to over-tax the group and have to play too many minutes consistently.

Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season. (picture: Michael Gillen)

Falkirk FC players back for day one of pre-season training for SPFL League one 2019 - 2020 season. (picture: Michael Gillen)

“We’ll bring some in to help us and we are obviously still working extremely hard to bring additional players in to the team too.

“Some deals just take longer than others but hopefully there is now a sign of what we are trying to do and I am delighted with how the past week has gone, and long may it continue.”