Clyne ready to push on

By SFC Media time Tue 09 Jul Club

Nathaniel Clyne has targeted a second season of improvement with Southampton in the year ahead.

The full-back returned to the Club earlier this week to begin pre-season testing after being given an extended break due to his time away with England at the European U21 Championships at the start of the summer.

The 22-year-old defender is now back at Staplewood and looking forward to starting work again as he outlined his goals in the forthcoming campaign.

"Seeing the lads again brought a smile to my face and the hard work starts now really," Clyne told Saints Player.

"The lads have obviously started well, they seem fit and hopefully I can come and match up to them.

"I want to improve as a player, and as a team I think we can all improve together because we can do better than last season. 

"Last season was a great season but I think, with the players that we’ve got, we can take the experience that we have into this season then we'll be OK.

"For myself, I would like to get three goals and five assists – I'll be happy with that. Hopefully as a team we’ll be aiming for a top-half finish."

Clyne spoke shortly after completing the rigorous VO2 max testing at Southampton Solent University on Monday, and admitted that the preparation for that alone had been weighing on his mind as early as last week.

"It was tough but I just had to get through it," he grinned. "The rest of the lads did it as well so it was my turn to do it. I had to run to my maximum and hopefully I did well.

"I saw a couple of the clips that went up on the website, and the training looked tiring so I did a bit of work at home to get myself prepared for when I came back.

"I feel fit. I think I lasted quite long and I feel really good after it."

Nathaniel was joined at the fitness test by new teammate Dejan Lovren, and the former Crystal Palace man is eagerly anticipating welcoming in the Croatian signing properly when the squad travel to Spain and Austria later this month.

"He was sitting there watching me and I don’t know what time he got to but I’m sure he did well," Clyne said.

"We’ve got a bit of team bonding coming up now and we’ll welcome a new player (Lovren) coming in. He’s been doing the fitness testing with me and seems like a good lad. 

"Going away will be good for the team to bond. We'll get away to some sun and work abroad get into the swing of things and start playing some matches out there to aid our fitness.

"To see your teammates every day, wake up and then they're there and in the morning as well as the afternoon – it is good."

A fresh start is high on Clyne's priority list following a disappointing summer exit with England Under-21s at Euro 2013, and the defender is keen to move on from the tournament in Israel.

"It definitely wasn’t the best tournament that we could have had," he reflected. “I certainly felt that we could have done much better than we did. 

"The lads underperformed so it's probably down to us really, but that’s football and you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. 

"It’s what these experiences are about, and hopefully I can improve as a player in time to get into the senior team.

"It can be quite tough to see the rest of the lads go away on their holidays and get some sunshine on the beach, but it’s an honour to play for your country so I didn’t see it that way.

"I’m privileged to play for the England Under-21s, so for me it was about going there doing a job, getting all of the experience I can and to win the tournament. Unfortunately we didn’t get to do that, but you learn lessons from it."

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