No hiding place for Portsmouth players as they show elite fitness in pre-season

Craig Macgillivray putting in the pre-season graft. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Craig Macgillivray putting in the pre-season graft. Picture: Habibur Rahman
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The days of summer booze binges and flagging footballers in pre-season are a thing of the past.

And events Pompey’s Roko training base have highlighted how times are changing when it comes to how players treat their bodies.

Craig MacGillivray took to social media to deliver evidence that’s certainly the case this week.

The Pompey keeper highlighted his place topping a chart of the body-fat percentages of Kenny Jackett’s squad.

MacGillvray’s 8.1 per cent reading led the way with Louis Dennis (8.2 per cent), James Bolton (8.3 per cent) and Jamal Lowe (8.3 per cent) following close behind.

For context, an elite swimmer’s ideal fat percentage range is from nine to 12 per cent with male tennis players ranging from eight to 18 per cent. A healthy figure for a man in 15 per cent.

Craig Macgillivray putting in the pre-season graft. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Craig Macgillivray putting in the pre-season graft. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Jackett said: ‘I was speaking to Craig Mac about what he did across the summer.

‘He had two weeks off, got his mind off it and after that came in with the fitness coach for tough sessions.

‘Then he was here two or three times a week doing goalkeeping work. That's how he preferred to tick over.

‘There was blogs on the guys doing running work at 1pm in the heat in Dubai.

‘Footballers invest in their fitness and there's a gym culture among people in their twenties today anyway.

‘You see players go in the gym and work now, not hide.

‘Through the summer, anyway, there's good fitness levels and they come back enthusiastic and buzzing to play football.

‘Sometimes you have to temper it a bit so they don't pick up injuries, but our players came back with a very good standard of fitness one way or the other.

‘They don't feel like they're playing catch-up. They might feel like that when they play the games because playing football is playing football.

‘Similarly, I expect them to do well once the games start next week.’

Jackett could fairly regard himself as a football innovator when it comes to utilising body-fat percentages, after first introducing them as a management tool 15 years ago.

He added: ‘I do find body fat is a really good indicator of where people are and how they live their life.

‘That's especially the case when you start breaking it down to different parts of the body.

‘It's going lower. Since when I started it around 2004 or 2005 at Swansea the science of it has got better.

‘It used to be 12 per cent and under but with our players it's 10 per cent and under. That's the rules.

‘Craig is one of the top at 8.1 per cent. 

‘It's a good indicator of someone's lifestyle. You can tell and you can tell over a period.

‘It's hard to be exactly the same all the time, but it's one I believe in and tells you a lot about someone's lifestyle.’

The fact a keeper in MacGillivray has a claim to being among Pompey’s fittest players may raise a few eyebrows - and is an indicator of how stereotypes are changing in football. 

Jakett knows bracketing a keeper’s regime as easier than an outfield players is an outdated mode to thinking.

He said: ‘They would say they worker than anybody.

‘They don't do the running but there’s three or four of them every single day doing the work.

‘There's the amount of gym work they do to supplement it as well.

‘It's different and you can't compare it to an outfield player, but it’s physically hard being a keeper.

‘There may not be the yards and miles but they say physically the easiest day should be the matchday, but mentally it's the hardest because of the concentration.

‘So they do want to work physically on all the other days.’