Sheffield United players are braced for a gruelling pre-season after Nigel Clough revealed he wants them to be the best prepared team in League One next term.
Clough, the United manager, has made an immediate impact at Bramall Lane with United winning 54 per cent of their matches and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals during his first seven months at the helm.
But the former Derby County and Burton Albion chief, who inherited a squad languishing nearthe foot of the table after taking charge in October, is adamant there must be no repeat of the wretched start which eventually cost United a play-off place.
“We always pride ourselves on being the fittest,” Clough told The Star. “That was the case at Derby and even going back to Burton when we managed to win the league, effectively, even though we were part-time.
“We’re looking forward already to getting the lads back. Whether they’ll be looking forward to the work, you’d have to ask them.
“The players who know us will understand what is in store and what we expect. They’ll know what it will be like.”
United, who eventually finished seventh in the table, won only one of their opening 14 fixtures at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.
Having emphasised the importance of the summer schedule, Clough will look to complete the majority of his business in the transfer market before United report back for training in July.
“It’s an important part of the season,” Clough said. “Possibly the most important part because that’s what helps set the tone.
“You can try different things out in matches knowing that you can afford to do it.
“You can look at one or two different things in game scenerios. Then make sure they’re all in place when the real business or getting results starts.”