Cheltenham Town video: Bennett is still reaping the benefit of a hard summer
ALAN Bennett says a summer of almost non-stop toil last year has been the key to his consistency for Cheltenham Town this season.
The central defender missed his first League Two match of the season last Saturday due to a minor groin strain, but he is fit to return for tomorrow's home game against Bradford City.
After an injury-affected campaign at Wycombe Wanderers last term, Bennett was determined to come back fitter and stronger.
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His pre-season fitness test results were top of the class and the 30-year-old believes his close season work has paid off, with 43 league starts from a possible 44, all of which have been the full 90 minutes.
"I think I had about four days off throughout the whole of last summer, then I went straight back into it," Bennett said.
"I went to Tunisia for a week with the missus and spent all my time in the gym because I was so determined for this season go well.
"I had no choice because last year was disrupted and I think it's paid off.
"After playing a lot more games this season, I might take a full week off in the summer, but I plan to continue my programme where I left off lat summer, doing the same, if not more."
Republic of Ireland cap Bennett has played in the Championship for Southampton, during a loan spell from Reading, but he has missed out on regular League One football, despite helping two of his previous clubs win promotion from League Two.
He was Brentford captain when they won the title in 2008/09, but he did not play as regularly as he would have liked at the higher level the following year
He was part of the Wycombe squad that won automatic promotion 12 months ago, but was released at the end of the season, paving the way for his move to Cheltenham.
Victory against Bradford could be enough to confirm the Robins' play-off place and Bennett still harbours ambitions to prove himself in the third tier of English football.
"A chance to put in a good, solid season in League One would keep me in the country, definitely," Irishman Bennett said.
"It's all further down the line and we have to take it one step at a time, but that's a definite ambition for me."
Bennett rates Cheltenham's 1-0 win at Bradford in November as one of their best performances of the season and he is expecting another tough test tomorrow.
"Bradford have some very good players and I'd say the win at their place was one of our best performances of the season," he said.
"James Hanson is a good player up front and they have some big centre-halves, with Guy Branston and Luke Oliver, who I was with at Wycombe.
"They have come into some form and it won't be easy, but we are well prepared for it."