Pools keeper Scott Loach has said that pre-season bonding will be as important as fitness work as Craig Harrison’s men begin their preparations for the National League campaign.
The 29-year-old was one of six new faces in the squad which reported back for the first day of training on Monday morning and he’s keen to hit the ground running.
And the former Watford and Notts County stopper knows that the physical work that will build up throughout July will also help the players form a spirit which can serve them well during 2017/18.
“The first day is one that people dread but it was alright actually,” he admitted.
“It was good to meet the lads and, I shouldn’t say this, but it was fun – though I think that’s just easing us in to what it going to be a very testing few weeks ahead.
“I think that’s the right approach because if you come back all guns blazing then it’s risking picking up injuries, I have been there before where lads have ended up missing pre-season.
“The gaffer here knows the game inside out so he knows how best to ease us in for the challenges ahead so we’re all enjoying it.
“I think at this sort of level everyone kind of knows everyone from playing against us but it’s good to get in and build relationships.
“We’re going to be playing lots of games this season with league and cup competitions so having a good spirit will hopefully get us that extra 10 to 15% that we will need.”
Once training is done on Tuesday, Loach will be heading home to watch England’s Under-21 side lock horns with their German counterparts in the semi-finals of the European Championships.
And he’ll be forgiven for allowing himself to wander down Memory Lane because it was Loach who was in goal last time the young Lions made it to an Under-21 final back in 2009.
Sadly, that day ended in a 4-0 defeat to Loach and his England team-mates but it still represents a proud moment in his life and he is crossing his fingers the latest generation of youngsters can go all the way.
“I just hope they play better against Germany than we did in 2009!” he laughed.
“I sometimes look back at that involvement with England and have to pinch myself because it was a great feeling and something nobody can take away from me.
“People can say what they want about where I have been and where I am now but all I have ever wanted to be was a footballer at any level and to look back and be able to say I have played for my country is a great feeling.
“If you look back at the German team we played in that Final they are all world-beaters now so let’s hope that this England team can go one better than we did and do what the Under-20s did the other week by bringing home silverware.
“I think there is some pressure being put on the lads in some quarters but the young players in this country are doing really well at the minute so I think we should all be getting behind them.
I really hope the boys do it because then maybe the whole “Class of 2009 – Where Are They Now?” features will stop appearing on Sky Sports News all the time!”