ROTHERHAM United players old and new are in for a rough ride in the build-up to their onslaught on League One, according to boss Paul Warne.
Some of the the squad reported back for their early pre-season conditioning tests yesterday with the expectation that the former fitness coach will be putting them through the wringer when it comes to preparation.
The whole group is set to be together for this first time on Monday, when the pre-season schedule really kicks in.
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Self-confessed 'fitness freak' Warne is eager to test the players mentally as much as physically to learn more about the type of players and people he has at the club.
He told the Advertiser: “I will do a lot of blind running with them, which kills the lads.
“They will do prep work and conditioning with Ross (Burbeary) and a lot of specific football drills with me, Richie (Barker) and Hammy (coach Matt Hamshaw).
“In the afternoon they may do more conditioning before they come back to me for some blind running drills. The first thing they will ask is “how many are we doing?” and I won’t tell them, they could do one or they could do 60.
“I will just run them until I honestly believe they have nothing left to give and if someone drops before they should then they will all give me an extra ten.”
Warne is eager to see how far each player is willing to push themselves for the good of the team and sees current club captain Lee Frecklington as the perfect model to follow.
“I’ve had this discussion with loads of fitness coaches,” said Warne. “You can have the fittest player in the world but are they prepared to do it in the 90th minute? Are they prepared to do it when they are having a bad day at the office?
“A perfect example of that is when we do the fitness testing. Frecks (Frecklington) won’t come top but in a game he will come top by a country mile because he is prepared to put himself through hell. That’s how I see character running.”
If the current crop of players think pre-season will be all about running up hills and sprint work, they have another thing coming.
Warne is planning small-sided games on full-size pitches to see who is prepared to run the length of the pitch with the ball at their feet and, arguably more importantly, who isn’t.
He will look to the “little unmeasurables” to wring every last drop out of his squad and is planning team-building exercises to help integrate the new players and their families.
Lee Frecklington: Puts himself through hell
Warne added: “I’m going to try and organise a pre-season barbecue or hog roast at the training ground with all the families there.
“I need the lads with partners to meet other people straight away because I believe that if the families are happy then the players are happy, which makes a happy environment. It will also hopefully help build a connection with the club.
“On a daily basis, particularly pre-season, we will do loads of team-building which I think is crucial because if the start of the season doesn’t go how you want it to go but you have a real togetherness then there’s a good chance they will succeed.”
We'll have an online photo gallery from pre-season training on Monday evening.