Catching up with – Jack Batten

Former Bristol City youngster Jack Batten is fast approaching the 170 appearance mark for Bath City. Despite missing the whole of last season with a knee injury sustained in the final pre season outing against Forest Green Rovers, the Bristol born central defender has battled back on the long road to recovery and when we caught up with him ahead of the Swindon Supermarine tie and he was in good spirits, saying he is back to full fitness. Jack, who joined City in November 2015 initially on loan had this to say…

After such a long time out how is everything now, all back to full fitness?
“My knee is feeling as good as ever so from that point of view, I’m absolutely fine. I have to admit with all of the challenges 2020 has brought to us all, it didn’t make my life any easier in terms of returning to play and regaining my fitness. I was almost ready to return to light training in March, just as the pandemic really kicked off, so that effected my progress massively, not being able to see Steve, our physio, or have use of any form of gym equipment was really tough to take. I believe the only saving grace would be that with the amount of games we’ve had since starting back that has helped me regain my match fitness which i would say I’m starting to get back to how I was before I was injured.”

How difficult has this season been so far with so many new players and Covid interruptions etc?
“Due to Covid, I think it was always going to be a difficult season, not just for us but for every team in the league. The personnel has changed quite a bit from last season, with new faces coming in and quite a few loan signings coming into the squad also, which in a normal year, would take a few months to really gel as a squad, so not being able to bond away from training has made it that little bit harder. I do believe in the last two weeks we’ve started to click on and off the pitch.”

Going forward City have begun to click but no doubt you will be keen to get back to keeping clean sheets?
“For me, clean sheets are the quickest way to three points, especially as I believe we have the attacking players in the squad to win against any opposition in the league. Creating a solid unit to allow them to do their thing is really important for us and we need to work hard in improving this aspect of the game as in my opinion we’ve conceded far too many goals at this stage of the season for a Bath City team. We have showed signs of that in previous games, even if the score lines have not seemed so, we’ve restricted teams to much less chances from open play so that is a positive to take, but like I said there is still lots of work to be done.”

What targets have you set yourself as a group over these Christmas games?
“The festive period is great as you can accumulate points very quickly. Game after game can be a huge positive and stringing a few wins together makes playing every couple of days much easier! Obviously we have the derby games vs Chippenham, which is always something to look forward to around this time of year, but our approach won’t change too much, we want to improve and move up the table, that’s the ultimate goal.”

Having returned from injury to largely a new group of players how have you settled back in, is the team spirit still as good as it was?
“I think there is only a handful of players still playing for the club since I played Wealdstone in the play offs. So naturally there will be time spent getting used to each other on and off the pitch but I think we’re 
in a good place at the moment, and I’d say we’ve come on a lot from a month ago. I don’t think the late start to the season helps peoples perspective in relation to this as by Christmas in a normal season we’d be very much into the thick of the season but currently we’ve only played 10 league games, barely making it out of September in a normal year. The experience we have in the squad helps with this as we do have a lot of younger lads with us this season and to have those characters in the changing room is vital for them.”

With Christmas bringing lots of matches, how will you and the team look after yourselves, is it a case of watching what you eat and drink?
“We always train through Christmas, so we won’t have any longer periods off in that sense. I believe with things being how they are at the moment in the UK, even if a few of the lads wanted to go for a few drinks down the pub we’d be out of luck anyway! On a serious note though, we all prepare properly for the games over the period, that’s always been the way since I joined the club. It’s probably more important than ever this year to spend time with family and close ones, when and if you can, so I hope the lads and staff will take the time to do that with the hectic schedule ahead.”

Finally, what message would you give the supporters who have been watching on the live stream but have yet to return in person?
“Personally, I’m praying you are allowed back into Twerton Park for these up and coming games as you have been sorely missed by the players, staff and everyone working at the club. Your huge support on the live streams has been greatly welcomed by the squad, so a massive thank you from everyone at Bath City for your support in the last few months!”