Media Manager Darren Bentley reports from EvianSo we’re here!
A week after the players returned to training on a rainy day at Gawthorpe, the squad - minus a few key players – they arrived in Evian les Bains earlier today… to horizontal rain!
Thankfully, after being welcomed by a brief thunderstorm, the skies cleared to reveal the full jaw-dropping beauty of this glorious French resort on the banks of Lake Geneva.
The sumptuous hotel shares top billing, although there was not much time to get familiar to the plush surroundings before the real reason we’re here was made abundantly clear.
Within a couple of hours of unpacking, the players were hard at it under the watchful eye of Sean Dyche and his meticulous coaching team.
The training base is a mere five minute stroll from the immaculate hotel grounds, and again the facilities could best be described as fabulous, framed by Lake Geneva.
The Stade Camille Fournier, used by Burnley on their visit here 12 month ago, again provides a spacious, secure base for the week. And it’s testament to the demand for top class facilities that the German Euro 2016 squad only vacated here last Wednesday.
Germany, who lost out to France in the semi-finals (to the delight of the locals), set-up camp here for the duration of the tournament, with the evidence visible everywhere you look, including one penalty area that shows the Germans were most definitely practicing penalties!
Elsewhere, Euro 2016 advertising hoardings give the stadium an official feel, while the dug-outs are still liveried with the Die Mannschaft branding.
I’m told security in these parts over the past month, especially given what France have had to endure in recent months, left absolutely nothing to chance.
And with the tournament itself thankfully passing by with no major security scares, the French deserve praise following their month on the global stage.
That brings me onto the aforementioned missing members of Sean Dyche’s squad, here in Evian.
England goalkeeper Tom Heaton and Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Ward both return to Burnley next week, after being given a break following their respective exits from Euro 2016.
Sam Vokes, no doubt still on cloud nine after Wales’ incredible run to the semi-finals, has been granted an extra week and will enjoy a brief holiday before re-uniting with his club colleagues later in the month.
All of which has created a few openings and an experience to remember for eager young Development Squad players, such as goalkeepers Connor Mitchell and Tony Aghayere, Aussie midfielder Aiden O’Neill, along with Irish defender Cameron Dummigan.
Connor Mitchell and Tony Agyahere train with goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer
A good 90 minute session in the evening heat and humidity cleared the cobwebs for all, and the retreat back to the hotel was timely as the rain that abated generously throughout the afternoon arrived to top up the lake for tomorrow’s tourists.
Double session tomorrow lads. Get some sleep!