St. George’s Park, part of Burton-upon-Trent, lies between Birmingham and Manchester. All English national football teams train here. FC Barcelona and Galatasaray Istanbul have also been there. The National Football Center, which opened ten years ago, covers 130 hectares and cost the equivalent of more than 120 million euros to build. The trappings could hardly be better when Hertha BSC arrives in the West Midlands region for the 12-day training camp on Tuesday.
“We’re looking forward to very good conditions,” said coach Sandro Schwarz on Monday afternoon after the session at Schenckendorffplatz. New signing Ivan Sunjic says: “A great facility with all the options you need.” Sunjic had last played for the English second division club Birmingham City for three years. He knows the training center in Burton-upon-Trent from a stay with the Croatian U18 national team.
34 players will travel to England with Hertha, including four goalkeepers. The squad is big, but not too big, Schwarz thinks: “We know what the situation is like. It’s not like we’re going to have a stomach ache when we’re on the plane or thinking, but that’s quite a lot of players.” One thing is clear in any case: there will still be a lot going on at the Bundesliga club before the end of the current transfer period on January 1st September.
There are also a few professionals in the training camp who are considered candidates for sale: Krzysztof Piatek as well as Santiago Ascacibar and Deyovaisio Zeefuik. Omar Alderete, whom Hertha would like to transfer, will be absent. And Javairo Dilrosun joined Feyenoord Rotterdam on Monday.
In addition to the injured Jessic Ngankam and Kélian Nsona, Mesut Kesik will remain in Berlin. The 19-year-old took part in the first training camp and also played in two friendlies. On the other hand, four other talents are traveling with them: Luca Wollschläger, Derry Scherhant, Julian Eitschberger and Lukas Ullrich.
At the beginning of the week, several players trained individually. Ascacibar and new signing Filip Uremovic will probably complete their full workload again by Wednesday at the latest, while it will take a few days longer for Stevan Jovetic. His advanced training will initially be continued in England.
The first three weeks of preparation are over. “The status is decent,” says Schwarz, both in terms of athletics and playful approaches. But the 43-year-old does not want to praise too much. So he immediately adds that there is absolutely no reason for complacency.
For example, Schwarz was not at all satisfied with the first half of last Friday’s friendly against the regional league team Energie Cottbus. His team was “too wild in both directions”. After the break, Hertha went at a much faster pace, played better in depth and won 5-1 in the end.
Be active, have permanent structure, keep the opponent busy, that’s what Black wants to see. And what will be worked on in St. George’s Park in the next two weeks. “Every day, again and again. With tension, intensity and sharpness,” demands Schwarz. In terms of weather, this will probably be flanked as follows in the next few days: temperatures up to 25 degrees, lots of sun, no rain.
Schwarz was able to convince himself of the progress of the team several times under competitive conditions. Test matches against third division club Derby County (July 16), Premier League promoted team Nottingham Forest (July 20) and second division club West Bromwich Albion (July 23) have been scheduled. One or more test games are likely to be added.
The goal for the training camp was clearly outlined by Schwarz: “That we want to keep developing and be as prepared as possible for the first game.” After that, the opponents in the Bundesliga are 1. FC Union (away) and Eintracht Frankfurt.