Swans get set for key spell

20th November 2018
First team

Swansea City’s players are back at work on the training ground this week as they get set for a Championship winter.

The international break has not meant downtime for all at the Liberty, of course, with seven senior Swans on duty with their respective countries.

But Graham Potter took the chance to give those players not involved in international football some time to rest up.

The majority of his squad were handed a few days off last week, with Potter keen for batteries to be recharged ahead of a busy spell in the second tier.

The November break is the last international lay-off until late March.

With the possible exception of a couple of FA Cup dates, the Swans will be in action every weekend up until that point.

And in the Championship, there will be plenty of midweek fixtures along the way too.

After this fortnight without a game, the Swans leap straight back in at the deep end as they face Norwich City, West Brom and Derby County inside seven days.

There are three more fixtures before Christmas, then three in six days during a typically frantic festive spell.

In December alone, there will be 18 points on offer to Potter’s team.

Hence people talk about the section of the season which lies ahead as being key.

The good news is that the Swans head into this hectic period in decent shape.

There was much uncertainty in the summer about how 2018-19 would go.

A new management team had arrived following relegation from the Premier League and there was an overhaul of the playing squad.

A host of senior figures said their farewells, and in their place came a sprinkling of youthful acquisitions.

They joined a squad which looked a little short on numbers until Potter took the bold step of promoting a batch of youngsters from within.

It was impossible to know how the numerous new faces would fare in the Championship.

And while it is still too early to draw any conclusions, the evidence seen so far suggests Potter’s new-look Swans have the capacity to compete at this level.

With 17 league games played, the Swans have 26 points on the board.

That tally leaves them a couple of points short of the play-off places and five points adrift of Leeds, who currently occupy the second automatic promotion slot.

Nobody was quite sure how the Swans would react having dropped out of the top flight after seven seasons.

But their results – and stylish performances – in the first three-and-a-half months of this campaign have triggered optimism about what may be achieved.

Potter is not one to discuss his team’s prospects for next spring.

Whenever talk has turned to hopes for this season, the Swans boss has focused attention on the fixture list.

His approach from the outset has been to concentrate minds on the next game, and to try to inspire an improvement in performance levels with each week that passes.

There have been bumps in the road, of course, but Potter’s plan is working.

His team – his squad – look a stronger outfit now than they did in August.

The challenge now is to maintain momentum as the Swans head into the thick of the Championship season.

Manage that and they should be well placed when results become crucial at the back-end of the campaign.