Michael Raynes says that the attention to detail being given to Pools' pre-season training regime will help to provide the players with a solid platform when the big kick-off arrives.
With over a dozen gruelling pre-seasons already behind him, the experienced defender knows a thing or two when it comes to the trials and tribulations of a warm-up campaign.
Having seen the way fitness is viewed in football evolve radically over the years, Raynes has been impressed with the structure of Pools’ training methods so far this pre-season.
Now he’s determined to make the most of what is on offer to make sure he is in optimum condition at the start of August and ready to enjoy a positive 2019/20.
“This is pre-season number 15 for me and they don’t get easier – in fact, I think they’re getting progressively harder!” the 31-year-old centre-back told us.
“I’ve learned by now that you have to get through the aches and pains of it all - and you can only go as fast as you can go, that’s how I look at it.
“I’m not going to say we’ll all enjoy it but it has to be done and, compared to other pre-seasons I’ve been involved with in the past, this one has much more of a thought process behind it.
“One year when I first started, the opening day of pre-season was a ninety-minute run because the Manager wanted to mimic a full game!
“He had us running non-stop for 45 minutes then we jogged for 15 minutes and then did another 45 minutes of running – and at the end he shouted “Right, it’s extra-time now!” and that was Day One!
“There were literally lads dropping to the ground and being sick; I’ve never seen anything like it but luckily those days are gone and it’s not too bad for these young boys anymore!
“The way the staff here have put together the programme this year is very good and I think that is showing in the results the lads have been getting.
“I think you need to do this work. I had a bad pre-season last year and that probably shone through with the season when I didn’t really play for Crewe and you’re always trying to play catch-up.
“It’s good to get a solid pre-season under your belt, get some game time in the friendlies and then that stands you in good stead and you can have a strong baseline behind you to see what the season brings.
“Tuesday’s game (at Billingham Town) should be fun – and it’s nice to see the sun has turned up now because it feels more like pre-season with the sun shining.”
Raynes saw a promising loan spell with Pools cruelly cut short by injury last season but he jumped at the chance of returning to the Club on a permanent deal during the summer.
Having seen from afar the troubles encountered over recent years, he is proud to be part of a squad given the opportunity to reverse those fortunes and start the fightback at Pools.
“This is a good Club and it’s a big Club so hopefully this is the start of the turn.
“I have been in position before when clubs have been, not in a decline but in a bad place and it takes something to turn it so we want to be part of doing that and getting this Club back moving in the right direction.
“Everyone here is brilliant, it’s a good group - though it can be a bit cheeky at times!
“We’re a very youthful squad with some young and hungry players mixed with some experience so you never know where that can take you.
“I know there will be conversations like this going on up and down the leagues about teams thinking it could be their year but we just need to make sure we do everything we can and do it our way and see what happens.”