Hartlepool United’s players have been “battered” in the first few days of pre-season training in sweltering heat.
And impressed boss Ronnie Moore was pleased to see no “porky pigs” in his trim squad, who have been training in temperatures in the high 20s.
The club’s Maiden Castle base, in Durham, has been a hive of activity after the players returned from their summer holidays on Monday.
Moore met with the press yesterday and he is pleased with his side’s fitness levels ahead of a gruelling week in the hands of the club’s fitness and conditioning team.
It doesn’t get any easier though as the players then face a four-day trip to Catterick for intense team bonding and training exercises with the Army.
Moore said there is no easy way of getting fit ahead of a 46-match league campaign and says his players simply have to grin and bare it in the hot summer sun.
“Pre-season is always tough,” said Moore.
“The first day isn’t usually that tough but we battered them!
“They had all been given fitness programmes while they were away and I’m pleased to say that no porky pigs came back.
“Sometimes one or two test you but the body fat levels have all been good so we went straight into a really physical day on Monday.
“We got the balls out yesterday and they had another few runs in the afternoon.
“There is no easy way though, this week they are here and next they are at Catterick.
“There, they will be split into three teams and it will all be about team work.
“That is what Army life is about and it is a little bit like what football should be about too, working hard together, egging each other on and encouraging each other.”
The vastly experienced 62-year-old has never taken a side of his to an Army boot camp before but he has experienced it himself as a player.
It is an experience his side should relish, insists Moore, who isn’t a fan of pre-season trips abroad to build fitness levels.
In previous years Pools have jetted off to Holland or Spain, but those days have gone under Moore.
Moore added: “It is the first time as a manager I have been to an army camp.
“I have been to one as a player though.
“People say it is old school but it is a modern army now and they’ll know they have worked when they go there.
“There will be no messing about. They will be treated properly and worked hard in the right way.
“I don’t like travelling away. It is hot enough here to do pre-season, why go to Spain to run about?
“You can’t get yourself fit. There was no way we were going to Spain.
“It is alright for the staff who can enjoy a beer after training and have a jolly up but I’m not into that. No way.
“Pre-season is so important to get the fitness levels up to the levels we need them to be.”
Moore won’t be running his new-look squad into the ground though and has called on them to be responsible if they feel a twinge, before a serious injury develops.
“If they are genuinely feeling a twinge then they should pull out of a session, but only if it is genuine.
“There is no point picking up an injury in pre-season because then you playing catch up all season,” added Moore, who revealed the club is casting an eye over young Rotherham stopper Peter Denton.
Pools only have one goalkeeper, new signing Trevor Carson, after Jonny Maxted’s release and Scott Flinders’ decision to turn down reduced terms to sign for York City.
Highly-rated Denton, 18, stands at 6ft 3in.