STEVE Johnson heralded Weymouth’s first day of fulltime training as a ‘new era’ for the club.
The Terras boss put more than 25 players through their paces at Redlands yesterday in the first session since the Wessex Stadium outfit unveiled plans to turn professional this summer.
And Johnson, who led a reserve side to a 2-2 home friendly draw with Yeovil Town’s second string last night, reckons the move is already paying dividends.
He said: “Our first morning training at Redlands was fantastic and I suppose you could say it marks a new era for the club.
”All the senior players were there, bar one in Simon Browne who unfortunately had to miss out through work commitments.
“I also invited some of the academy and youth team players along with a view to them taking apprenticeships next season.
“The atmosphere at the session was fantastic and although the improvement won’t happen overnight, in many ways the move is already paying off.
“The switch has given everyone at the club, including the players, a massive lift because suddenly they feel like professionals.
“The club has generously paid out to get brand new equipment and supply every player with matching training kit.
“Things like that go a long way to helping extend team spirit and I have to say that daily training will help me no end.
“The previous twice weekly evening sessions have an almost amateurish feel to them simply because of when they are held.
“But I know everyone at these sessions wants to be there and training daily will allow me to plan build up to games far better.
“Yesterday we concentrated on keeping possession and today we’ll do a few drills and exercises on another area.”
Johnson reckons Redlands will prove to be the perfect permanent training base for his players.
“Redlands is the ideal venue for us, it’s got everything we need,” he said.
“The staff up there have been great and the facilities are perfect for what we want to do in the coming months.
“At the moment everything is new so we’re planning to use these sessions as a bit of a dummy run and allow the players to get used to daily training.
“The official full-time switch will happen from July but it does no harm between now and then to get as much practice in.”
Johnson’s search for new players has also been boosted by the switch, with the boss fielding Thurrock trialists midfielder Brad Nelson and striker Brad Walsh.
“Since we made the announcement about wanting new players, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with agents and people wanting to come down and have a trial,” he said.
“Daily training means I can do that and make a more informed judgement on them over, say, a week rather than a single game.
“The move has opened up new avenues of recruitment.
“The two Brads are an example of that and I’m hoping to have another look at them before deciding whether to take the matter further.”
Meanwhile the Terras had a late headed equaliser from veteran defender Browne to thank for salvaging them a 2-2 draw against Yeovil last night.
Richie Cullingford fired the visitors into a interval lead, before lively substitute Ludo Cadima got Weymouth back on terms.
The Glovers looked like securing the victory when Dale Williams’ neat finish put them 2-1 ahead with time running out.
But within a minute, up popped Browne to powerfully head home Kieran Keane’s cross.