Our preparation ahead of the second half of the season is picking up pace. The team has started to train twice a day in Dubai.
Before the morning training session the players wished Sofiane Hanni and Nikolai Rasskazov Happy Birthday, both of whom celebrated recently.
The first part of the training session consisted mainly of strength exercises, as well as drills for coordination. In the latter stages players worked with the ball more, concentrating on the final ⅓ scenarios.
Roman Zobnin and Pavel Maslov worked separately from the main group towards the end of the session to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
Andrey Eschenko, Salvatore Bocchetti, Samuel Gigot and Fernando stayed at the hotel, where they had a gym session, while being monitored by the new physio, Jorge Catalan.
Artem Rebrov, who also continues to recover in Dubai, took active part in training with the other goalkeepers, doing warm-up exercises, helping out Thodor and then working individually.
After the session Ayaz Gyliev sat down with our press office. Our Academy player signed a long-term deal with the Club yesterday, moving back to Spartak from Rostov.
— The first training session upon your return are now behind you. How are you feeling?
— It’s like I thought it would be: we work with the ball a lot. We are starting to get into the process, worked hard for the first time today. We’ll train twice a day from tomorrow onwards.
— How did react to an opportunity to return to Spartak?
— It’s been in the works for a while, but with few concrete details, so I tried not to think about Spartak too much: there were still a lot of games ahead. When the first half of the season was over and my representatives said Spartak were interested, I agree to move right away. I have grown up at Spartak and always wanted to play for the first team. So I’m very happy about it.
— When you joined Rostov on a permanent deal half a year ago, did you hope you’d return?
— I certainly kept that in mind, because it was my dream. On the other hand I knew such thoughts could halt my development, so I tried to give my best for Rostov, be useful there. I’m grateful to Rostov: I have gained invaluable first-team Premier League experience there and was noticed by Spartak as a result.
— You have spent a year combined, first at Anji, then at Rostov. Would you say you’ve changed a lot over that period?
— Others are probably better placed to judge, but if I’m good enough to play in the Premier League, then something should have changed for the better! (Smiles)
— In 2017 you have trained with the first team during pre-season. Do you feel differently now?
— I do, I’m much more confident now. Back then I only had the reserves behind me, now I’ve played for two seasons in the Premier League.
— How does that translate into playing?
— Premier League is based on quick thinking and a good physical condition. But every team has different requirements from you as a player. At Anji I worked on different things than I did at Rostov. Spartak will surely have their own nuances too.
— You have just got married this winter. Was it a big reception?
— We thought it’d be 450 guests, turned out it was more than 600. So I’m happy with that!
— You are sometimes likened to Khabib because you look a bit similar. What do you make of those comparisons?
— I definitely don’t take them the wrong way, because Khabib is a decent man. At Rostov I was also likened to him, so can’t say I’m surprised.