This has been the toughest pre-season so far of Charlton full-back Aaron Barnes short career, but he believes the high levels of intensity during it will help the League One outfit achieve their one aim for this year – promotion.
The 20-year-old was speaking after playing in the South Londoners’ 4-0 friendly win over non-league near-neighbours Greenwich Borough on Saturday evening – a second victory of a busy day for Karl Robinson’s men following the 3-0 win over Welling United.
The games were the first two on English soil after an intense ten days for the squad in Ireland, where a week of fitness training was followed up by three games in as many days – which yielded a 5-0 win over Crumlin United followed by defeats to Limerick and University College Dublin.
Barnes, who made his Addicks debut from the bench on the final day of last season, thinks the gruelling schedule will work in his side’s favour.
“I’m young so I haven’t done many pre-seasons but this has been the most testing one for me,” he explained.
“Doing the beach runs in Ireland in the early hours of the morning, I think we’re definitely going to benefit from it. We’ve worked really hard and I think we’re beginning to see the fruits of it. The tempo we played with throughout most of the game today was quite high and I think it’s going to bear us in good stead throughout the season.
“We had a tough week out in Ireland with the three games in three days, which was tough physically. It was good to get back to home. We didn’t do too well results wise but performances were quite encouraging out there. We played well today, we played with a tempo.”
“It’s the one aim,” he added.
“We’re such a big club – it’s all about promotion. Everyone has their own individual targets but at the end of the day we’re a big team and there’s only one collective aim and that’s to get promotion.”
Last year’s player of the year Ricky Holmes finally penned an extended contract with the club whilst out in Ireland and Barnes felt that this was a real boost for the squad as a whole.
“I don’t know if you saw, there were things like Tony Watt on Twitter talking about locking him in a cupboard,” Barnes joked.
“It’s a massive signal of intent from the club, players like Ricky wanting to play for the club. It does the world of good for us, makes us confident we can have a really good season.
“It’s been a really positive vibe – there’s a really good feel about this season. The manager came in and he really wanted to change the philosophy and ethos of the club – to have a more positive environment and players who want to play for the club. I think we’re getting that now; we’re really working hard. That can only mean one thing – hopefully good results throughout the season.”
Barnes, who played for Arsenal at youth level before failing to secure a scholarship with the Gooners, hopes to have more opportunities to represent the Addicks at first-team level this campaign.
“That will be the aim. Towards the end of last season the gaffer gave me some chances. I trained with the first team and was getting in some squads at the end of the season. I just want to enjoy it, get some minutes on the pitch – wherever I play – left back, right back, I’ll hopefully get some opportunities in the season and if I get them, hopefully I’ll take them.”