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West Ham Women’s captain Gilly Flaherty is delighted to be back training again ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Flaherty played all 14 of West Ham’s games in 2019-20, before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and her side finished eighth.
And she told whufc.com: “It’s really nice to be back. Waking up, it felt a little bit like the first day of school!
“We are only in small groups to start with, but it’s just nice to be back around the environment, seeing the staff, getting the banter back again and be around more people. It’s nice to start getting back to some normality.”
Asked how she maintained her fitness levels during the lockdown period, the defender added: “It’s obviously been a little bit different because, although we finished our season earlier, we were still training for a period after.
“We only really got two or three weeks with complete rest, but I know some of the girls didn’t stop. It’s not like we had a holiday to go to, because of lockdown.
“I bought a treadmill and the club sent us stuff to work with like bands and medicine balls. Colm and EJ, the S&C coaches, were very good in giving us a programme to follow and checking in with us on a daily basis. They were so understanding too because it’s been hard mentally as well as physically. They’ve been brilliant.”
Flaherty, who has previously played for Arsenal and Chelsea, still recognises the danger of coronavirus and speaking about safety during training said: ”Safety still has to 100 per cent be the priority. The last thing we want is for anyone in the group to have coronavirus or bring it in with us.
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“We have to be diligent, even when we are away from here and going home. We can’t be going to restaurants or pubs at the moment because this is our job and this is the priority, making sure we all stay safe.
“I know we’re diligent here with things like the hand sanitisers. It’s about remaining diligent away from here as well.”
Flaherty went on to discuss her first day back at training, as she said: “I’m feeling much better than I did after the interview we did for the first day of last pre-season! I asked if we could do it for longer, because I liked the smaller groups.
“It’s hard, obviously, because you have smaller numbers, but you have to make do and it’s been good. Everyone dreads pre-season because of the running and the fitness, but in Colm we’ve got an S&C coach who is about bringing the ball in and making it fun for the players as well. That’s what you want really – to be doing the running but also enjoying it.”
West Ham haven’t played since February due to the league being suspended and then ended with immediate effect last month and Flaherty can’t wait to get back playing matches again.
“With the league stopping in March, it’s been a long time since we last played a game,” she added. “It’s not the norm but it’s about getting a couple of weeks in and, before we know it, we’ll start having a few friendlies and start thinking about the new season starting.
“It just feels so long since we last played and it’s not the usual off-season. It will be nice just to get back in front of our fans.”
Flaherty signed a new contract on Monday and, talking about her deal, said: “I always wanted to stay and extend my time here. For me, I’ve had a really enjoyable two seasons. Last season was difficult but with the ambition of the club, from ‘Beardy’ (Matt Beard), Jack (Sullivan) and Aidan, it’s a place I want to be.
“West Ham is where I call home now and I’m happy to be here and happy to stay. We’ve got the two years and I hope to be here even longer.
“It’s a great club to be around, with the new facility (Chadwell Heath) and the support we’ve been given during the pandemic, it’s second to none. For me, there was no one else I’d rather be playing for.”
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