Alex Pearce labels the decision to sign a permanent deal at Millwall a “no-brainer” and is relishing his first full season at The Den alongside his teammates.
The defender became Neil Harris’ first summer signing after the manager secured his services on a permanent basis following his successful six-month loan, and has struck a chord with many supporters and players alike with The Lions.
“It was a no-brainer, really,” Pearce says.
“I knew that the club wanted to sign me and I wanted to sign for the club, and we managed to get it wrapped up pretty quickly.
“There was never any interest on my side to go anywhere else, and I wanted to be a Millwall player going forward. Thankfully we got it done quite early, and I was able to relax and go on my holidays knowing that [the deal] was done and dusted.”
Pearce has talked highly of the early progress from the team, as they returned to Calmont Road towards the end of June.
“The first week of pre-season has been good, and the boys have come back in good shape.
“We’ve worked hard on the training pitch and been put through our paces, and so far it has gone really well. Everyone comes back fighting fit these days, rather than a stone overweight or whatever.
“Like I say, it’s been a great first week, and everyone has come back raring to go.”
Now 30, Pearce is one of the senior figures in the Millwall squad and explains the transition in the outlook of pre-season for players since he made his professional bow 13 years ago.
“A lot has changed since I first became a professional – players used to really enjoy their summers and then use pre-season to get themselves back fit,” says the centre-half.
“But that’s completely changed – you continue your work over the course of the summer and get given programmes, and if you don’t stick to them, the workload will be too much when you get back in and you’ll get injured.
“As soon as we come back now we’re straight into ball work, so it’s really important that you carry on your work during the off-season.”
With the team due to fly out to Portugal next week for a warm-weather training camp, Pearce is anticipating an excellent bonding session among the squad to stand them in good stead for the demanding Sky Bet Championship season.
“Pre-season is a massive part of the season itself, and it’s when a lot of the groundwork is laid fitness-wise. As well as that, standards can be set around the training ground off the pitch, and they’re standards that must be kept all season.
“We have a good run of games too in which we’ll be looking to give a good account of ourselves, and try to build confidence and momentum.
“The pre-season camp in Portugal is a team bonding exercise where we’ll all be away together for a week, so we’ll have this week at the training ground before we fly out, and then we can build the bond that will carry us through the season. There will be tough times during the campaign, so that’s what we’ll rely on.”
Pearce finally touches on his reunion with new recruit Frank Fielding, whom he crossed paths with during a brief spell at Bristol City in 2016.
“Frank’s a fantastic character in and around the dressing room as a person first and foremost.
“As a player, he’s a very good goalkeeper with plenty of experience at this level, has the vital attribute of knowing how to win games at this level, and he’ll fit straight into the group because of the character that he is.
“He’ll be a great signing for us, I’m confident of that.”