Chris Humphrey’s exclusive column

Tom Little

Tom Little

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My best friend recently, and at times my biggest enemy, has been the club’s fitness coach Tom Little.

Since I got back from being with the Jamaica squad at the Gold Cup in America, I have been doing a lot of extra work with Tom to get me back to full speed and fitness.

Chris Humphrey has been doing extra fitness work

Chris Humphrey has been doing extra fitness work

I was away for much of the pre-season so it has been a case of me playing catch-up and trying to get up to the level where the other lads are at.

It has been hard work, not very nice at times, but I am definitely starting to feel the benefit now.

Tom is a great guy to work with, very tough in what he demands of you, but he gets you to where you want to be.

I have built up a good rapport with him since he came to the club just over a year ago.

My first pre-season with him last year was the hardest one I had ever done.

I struggled a bit with it but he got me through it and all through last season, I could feel the benefit of that work.

This time, it has been all about him helping me catch-up on what I missed in July.Tom understands what you need. When I’m doing long distance running, my back can seize up sometimes.

So instead he will work me over shorter distances but work me just as hard – getting the fitness into me that way.

I’m getting fitter every day, there is life back in the legs now!

To get a few minutes against Middlesbrough last Sunday was nice, that being the first time I had played in the Championship.

Then it was brilliant to get 35 minutes at Crewe in midweek.

Now it is about pushing for a place in the starting XI and catching the gaffer’s eye. He has brought in Marnick Vermijl down the right-hand side who is a very good player.

So it is going to be a battle between us two for a place down the right.

That is good, competition for places within a squad is vital to getting success – we had that last season and it got us promoted.

I look back on playing at the Gold Cup as a tremendous experience. To play at international level is brilliant and it being in a major tournament made me very proud.

It was also very tiring! When I first got back the demanding schedule and the jet-lag took its toll quite a bit.

I remember saying to my missus how much I was struggling in that first week back over here.

All the time I felt like I wanted to go to sleep, my eyes were closing every time I sat down.

It was only when I got back that I fully appreciated how much flying I had done.

We were flying every three or four days from state to state in America.

In that first week back, it caught up with me and made for a tough three or four training sessions.

I felt so much better leading up to the Middlesbrough game and this week I’m ready for whatever is thrown at me.

All the plane journeys started for me on July 3 when I flew out to the United States to join up with the Jamaica squad.

Each group game was in a different city and we would fly between them.

They were private charter flights and you actually travelled with the team you were going to play.

We would sit in the back half of the plane with the other team being in the front.

That was interesting to say the least – can you imagine two teams getting on the same bus for a match here?

One of our games was against Costa Rica and that flight was brilliant, it was one big party!

When we got on the plane, the Costa Rica lads were playing Jamaican music on a big ghetto-blaster.

At first we thought they were doing it to take the Mickey out of us.

But that was not the case, one of their players played in Jamaica and liked the music.

Once the plane took off, both teams were mingling and we had a sound clash.

It was good fun and certainly passed the time on the flight.

Things were a bit different with some of the other journeys.

The Mexico lads were very quiet and professional when we flew with them ahead of the final.

They just sat there quietly, looking straight ahead and there was no banter at all. Before the semi-final with the United States, the Americans came across as a bit cocky.

We had the last laugh by upsetting the odds to beat them. I’ve got to say that my passport now has an impressive number of stamps in it.

Playing international football allows you to visit some places which you would not normally dream of visiting.

I’m off on international duty again on August 31 for the start of the World Cuo qualifiers.

We play two games against Nicaragua, the first in Kingston and then away.

So all being well, I will have a Nicaragua stamp on my passport – another to add to my collection.

Back to club matters and we have a big game against MK Dons this weekend.

It has been a decent start to the season and hopefully we continue that against a side who were promoted with us.