Midway through Cardiff City’s week long training camp in the picturesque city of Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva, Malky Mackay took a break from putting his squad through their paces to talk to the press and describe the gruelling training programme set out for the players during the week.
“The training’s very hard,” said the City boss. “That’s why we don’t have games out here at the moment. We’ve got double sessions every day and obviously we make sure that they’re controlled, but it is tough training. It’s eating, sleeping, recovering and training really hard.
“They had a really good break off [during the summer] and they deserved it as they needed the time off. They had a programme for the off-season to stick to as well and they’ve come back in immaculate shape in terms of their body fat and the testing that we did last week. But this is us starting to just crank it up and it’s the first week of real intense training.
“This is just the right sort of place over here with the ambiance as it is and us being able to train in great conditions and us know exactly what they’re eating and the times that they’re sleeping.”
As highlighted by the latest photos from the camp, it was no surprise to see Craig Bellamy first out on the pitch for one of the many strenuous training sessions taking place.
Having played a key role in helping his home side reach the top flight for the first time in over half a century, the Bluebirds’ forward is showing no signs of slowing down according to Malky.
“Craig has a hunger and wants to play for his home club," Malky commented. "His big driving force in coming to Cardiff the first time was to try and get his home team into Premier League football.
“Then he came back and it was clear he had a desire to help finish the task. As the season went on that became apparent. His next step is the dream of pulling on a Cardiff strip in Premier League football – and that’s going to happen.
“He is a huge influence, a senior player who has been there, seen it, done it and I have great belief in him.
“Yes, there will come a time in the future when his body will say 'enough', but he is nowhere near that point yet. Craig is a big part of our plans.”
Bellamy recently announced that he will retire from international football with Wales when the current World Cup qualifying campaign draws to a close – calling an end to a dedicated international career in which he proudly racked up over 70 caps for his country.
While Malky has always encouraged his players to take every opportunity to compete at international level, he admitted that Craig’s decision will be of great benefit to Cardiff City in the years to come, saying:“Opting to retire means Craig can prolong his club career. That’s more due to the travelling aspect of it and the extra games that are played in a short space of time between league games.
“Our medical approach has been set to make sure his body is managed as well as possible, and ending that international travelling will help his body.
“Nobody can call into question anything about Craig’s international career. He has turned up for games and wrapped himself in the Welsh flag for years. The time has come for him to bow out and he has said he will do that and a new generation will come through.”
And Malky also gave an insight into the Club's recruitment process which has been ongoing during the week away in Switzerland. When asked what the next step is after narrowly missing out on a target such as Blackpool’s Tom Ince, Malky replied:“We immediately move on to the next target. There are various players in the last two years that we’ve tried to get but for one reason or another it doesn’t come off; but we always move straight on to the next target and that’s what we’re doing again this summer.
“We’ve had a recruitment department for the last few years which Iain Moody, my Head of Recruitment, has built along with myself. Certainly in the last six months, when we were leaning towards the possibility of going into the Premier League we had to start thinking further and wider in terms of our search for talent and players that could play in the Premier League.
“We want to add to the good group of players that we’ve got and that’s an ongoing process. I’ve got ten plates spinning at once right now and there are a lot of factors that come into each deal before you can actually have someone sign on the dotted line.”
We'll have more exclusive chat with Malky later in the week, here and on Cardiff City Player