RedNation Online recently had the chance to catch up with Canadian International Marcus Haber to discuss the start of the Canadian Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014. In this interview, Haber discusses his fitness following a serious knee injury that he suffered last year, his recent form with Scottish side St. Johnstone, his development as a young player since making the move to the United Kingdom, and his thoughts on the need to adjust his game for matches played in the CONCACAF region.
RedNation Online (RNO): This will be your first Senior National Team appearance that takes place in Canada, and in a World Cup qualifier no less. Does it feel good to be back in Canada and back in a Canadian kit?
Marcus Haber: Of course, it's always an honour to represent your country and it makes it that much more special to be back in Canada. I'm happy to be here and it has been a good week so far.
RNO: How has training camp gone and how do you feel you are integrating with your teammates?
Marcus Haber: It's been great. I recognize a lot of the guys from my last camp, so it's just about getting familiar with all the players and I think it has been all right so far.
RNO: You are coming back from a serious knee injury. How is your knee feeling and how is your fitness?
Marcus Haber: My knee feels great. I have been fully fit for about two months now, so I feel like I'm about fully back to speed now. I haven't had any issues with it and I feel good and ready to go.
RNO: Before the injury, did you feel like you were making significant progress as a young professional in terms of developing your career in the U.K.?
Marcus Haber: Of course, it was just starting to go all right for me. I had been getting some consistency playing week in, week out and it was just one of those unfortunate things that you can't plan for. But I worked hard to get back and I'm happy to be back playing.
RNO: This is now your second year playing club football in the U.K. How do you think you have benefited from making your move to the United Kingdom and playing and training there?
Marcus Haber: I feel it has benefited me a lot. Playing week in, week out at the first team level, it’s just going to benefit you. I feel that I have gotten used to the physicality of play and the demands of first team football. I’m just trying to improve every week.
RNO: How is your current season going with St. Johnstone?
Marcus Haber: We had a slow start, but the last week before I came to camp we have done quite well. We were able to beat Celtic away from home. We’re about mid-table – I think we are 7th or 8th right now, which is decent for the start we have had. We have had a tough schedule so far, playing Rangers and Celtic, and we’re happy where we are at.
RNO: What has been the biggest adjustment that you had to make moving from North America over to the U.K.?
Marcus Haber: Just the speed of play really. And the technical ability of some of the players, as well as just the demands and atmosphere, which is obviously a lot different. The fans demand a lot more and the Manager demands more. It’s an accelerated pace and a bit more physical I would say.
RNO: The Whitecaps Residency has long been considered one of the best training programs for young players in Canada. How does the training in the U.K. compare to what you were receiving in Canada as a young player?
Marcus Haber: I wouldn’t say that the training aspect is that much different. Everybody has different methods that they go through. I’d say the demands are similar and the difference is just on the pitch on a Saturday, I would say. The training is similar.
RNO: I was just talking to Terry (Dunfield) about the English game and the CONCACAF game. You have played for Canada a lot previously at the youth levels. Do you feel that you are confident that you can adjust your game as needed due to the CONCACAF opposition and referees?
Marcus Haber: I just think you have to be mindful. You can’t be doing anything silly like taking stupid yellow cards or dissent and things like that, because in CONCACAF the referees are sometimes strict and sometimes makes decisions that you can’t control.