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06 Jul 2021 : Boss is buzzing ahead of Saturday's overdue return to home turf

Manager Calum McIntyre has given his thoughts ahead of the first home warm-up outing of the summer against Linnets legend Matt Atherton's Euxton Villa in a free admission game this Saturday (ko 3pm).

In a special update for members and supporters, he reflects on pre-season progress so far and praises the efforts of his staff, players and also the club volunteers who have put so much into preparations for the homecoming.

Calum says: "Pre-season is now well under way and it has been really enjoyable to come back together and begin preparing for the season ahead. "We were very clear how we wanted to structure our pre-season programme this time around.

"We are approaching a really exciting part of the pre-season programme as we make a long- awaited return to our home ground.

"It has been 203 days since we last fielded a side in front of our home supporters and we are genuinely excited for our return against Euxton Villa on Saturday.

"Following Saturday's game, we will have an exciting run of games, hosting Runcorn legend Liam Watson's Southport before EFL League 2 outfit Hartlepool United visit us the following Saturday.

"We then face Pilkington FC on Tuesday 20th July to complete a run of four home games.

"To have so many home games in such a short space of time is really exciting and gives our supporters a real opportunity to see what we are looking to produce for the season ahead.

"To be able to face a variety of opposition including sides in the National League North and the EFL is really exciting for everyone involved at the club.

"The Hartlepool game obviously catches the eye and we are really grateful to Dave Challinor and his team for visiting us as they prepare for life in the EFL.

"Chall is a friend of ours and we look forward to welcoming them to Runcorn.

"I am really pleased with how pre-season has gone up to now. The physical aspects of pre-season are glaringly obvious but there has been a measured and specific approach to this and I believe we are already seeing the positive results within the group.

"We don't run for running's sake, we have clear targets to hit and really believe in what we are trying to do in terms of developing the physical aspects of our group.

"The attitude of the players has been fabulous and it has made for a really good atmosphere during training sessions.

"As well as the physical aspects, it's vital we begin to establish an identity as to what we want to be with and without the ball.

"The players were given really clear targets in the opening two fixtures, generally focusing on the way in which we built attacks in possession.

"As the opposition changes, it gives opportunities to look at different aspects and be challenged in different ways and we are really pleased with the variety of games that we have to play prior to the season starting.

"It isn't about being the finished article during pre-season, nor about chasing results and looking for all-round performances.

"It is about improving week on week, isolating key areas to improve and then working in those areas.

"Our first session back was a meeting where we made clear what would be expected, what we wanted to be and how we would get there in terms of on the training pitch.

"The players have bought into this immensely and we are pleased with the opening block of work.

"I was delighted to have been able to get so much of our recruitment done at the earliest opportunity to allow us to really work with our group rather than be looking to recruit heavily during pre-season.

"Last season we had a really mixed bag during the pre-season period. We wanted to combine the normal pre-season components while at the same time introducing some key themes and also viewing players we had inherited as well as trialists alongside our new recruits.

"This time around, we have a much more settled group.

"We would look to add in two areas prior to the start of the season and I think that can be seen in the specific areas of the pitch our trialists have featured in.

"We knew the areas we wanted to improve from last season. We felt we had a group worth retaining and with the right additions, generally to make us a little bit more dynamic, we could develop a really strong side.

"Our youngest players are a year older and the core of experienced players continues to ensure we have a platform to build upon.

"I am very fortunate to work with these players but also to work with the outstanding backroom staff we have here at Linnets.

"The attitude of our group of players has been superb since we returned.

"I feel we have a talented group who are determined to do everything they can to try and achieve something for Runcorn Linnets over the coming season.

"We won't ever be perfect and I am clear that even with any success we might achieve, there will be significant bumps along the way.

"When we aren't good enough, that rests with me.

However, be reassured, there is a real desire and appetite amongst the players and staff alike and a real belief in what we are trying to do.

"I have spoken at length about how determined we are to be a team that is worthy of supporting and we have done everything we can to do that despite the challenges that have come our way, largely out of our control, over the past 12 months.

"I have said time and time again that anything we achieve will be done together and that process of togetherness starts on Saturday with our return to our home ground.

"I really look forward to seeing our supporters on Saturday as you return to YOUR ground to watch YOUR team.

"The work that has gone on during the summer from our outstanding team of volunteers is immense.

"If our football team matches the work ethic and commitment of our volunteers each week, then we won't go far wrong.

"Thank you for your magnificent support, we can't wait to welcome you back where you belong to play your part in the season ahead."

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