AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor is relishing the return to pre-season training next week ahead of the forthcoming National League campaign.
The newly-promoted Coasters kick-off their preparations on Monday with a host of new faces on show after a busy summer in the transfer market.
Defenders Jordan Tunnicliffe and Zaine Francis-Angol and midfielder duo Lewis Montrose and Henry Jones will join up with their new teammates for the first time and Challinor can’t wait to get started.
Challinor said: “We want to create an environment for lads to come in and want to work and improve. There is now a gym on site at Mill Farm which will be hugely beneficial to our preparations. We have taken huge strides from where we were at this point last season and we have to continue to do that.
“From my perspective, I hope lads come back in decent shape so that the plans we have can be tapered to suit that. The majority of players now keep themselves fit all year round and now that we are full-time the lads are naturally fitter than if they were part-time.
“The aim through pre-season is to get everyone fit and ready for August 5th to make our selection decisions as difficult as possible. To do that, we will need a full squad to pick from.
“The first week we will ease back into it and integrate the new lads into the group. There will be some strength and conditioning involved and we are using the GPS equipment this season so we will get to grips with that too.
“The summer has flown by as usual and now we are looking forward to getting stuck back into it ahead of a new challenge next season.”
Challinor is no stranger to a gruelling pre-season schedule having spent close on 20 years as a professional but admits that preparations have changed drastically since his days of trudging through sand dunes!
“Times have definitely changed, changed a lot,” added Challinor. “When we used to play 50-60 games a season, as soon as the last game finished, we would do very little for eight weeks, if anything at all. Then you would rock back up for pre-season in not the best shape.
“At Tranmere, our first three days we were in the sand and it was horrific. There’s nothing worse than running through sand dunes in 25 degrees of heat when you are out of shape!
“It has definitely changed for the better in the way that pre-season is structured. We will still do a day in the sand, but now it isn’t so much about the physical side, more the mental benefits you take from it.
“You will never come up against that exact physical situation in a game, but mentally there will be times when you have to dig in and have teammates around you to get you through it.”