Most of the squad returned for training on Saturday — lads on international duty at the end of the season arrived on Monday — and were plunged straight into the dreaded ‘bleep test’ amongst a number of tests.
Despite that, spirits were high as the squad, including newcomers Paul Stalteri, Teemu Tainio, Wayne Routledge, Tom Huddlestone and Aaron Lennon began preparations for next season.
“I was really impressed with the way the lads came back,” reported Alex. “They were all given a summer training programme and told they would be fitness tested on the first day back, so they knew they had to prepare and be ready for it.
“From seeing what they’ve done and the results I’ve looked at it shows they’ve thought about it in the summer, come back prepared and want to take the season seriously.
“We’ve only six weeks for pre-season training and it’s central they come back ready so they don’t have injuries, so we can prevent injuries and they can be as conditioned as we want them to be.”
So why the bleep test on day one? “It is a really good opportunity to test the players and get baseline results for all of them,” explained Alex.
“From that, we can prescribe the intensity of the training throughout the pre-season period effectively and scientifically so when we re-test them after six weeks, we’re able to see how much they’ve improved and evaluate how successful pre-season has been.
“It’s a hectic schedule but the goals of pre-season are to make sure they get their baseline levels and injury prevention done, to maintain it and improve it.
“Our priority is the start of the Premiership and we use pre-season to prepare for that. August 13 is the target with the intention of maintaining and improving those levels throughout the season.”
Alex uses the latest technology to gather the vital statistics.
She added: "We have speed cells to measure the players’ acceleration and speed and a jump mat to measure their explosive power.
"We also measure their repeat sprint ability which is important because in football they work, work and work, recover and then work again.
"Basically we’re measuring every component of fitness they need to be successful in football and a lot of the latest research shows that the more physiologically gifted a player is, the better they will perform on the pitch."
Conditioning and rehabilitation coach Alex Court has been impressed with results from the first batch of pre-season training tests and praised the lads on how they’ve looked after themselves in the summer break.