Paul Dickov is taking great delight that some of his players have declared this pre-season as the toughest of their careers.
A wry smile appeared across the Rovers boss’ face when the Star informed him of this.
But it is more than bare-faced cruelty that is driving Dickov’s desire to see his players run their proverbial socks off this summer.
“The lads will be happy to know it’s only going to get harder in training,” Dickov said. “Pre-season isn’t nice for anybody – there will be days you come in feeling tired and a bit sorry for yourself.
“I’m not going to apologise for any of that or feel sorry for them.
“It’s for them and for not team, not just come August 3 but for the ten months that follow. It’s a long season and the base work we’re doing now will benefit them for the whole of it.”
The Rovers squad have been put through the wringer over the last fortnight, and there is little sign of any let-up.
Dickov said: “The main thing in the first two weeks of pre-season is that the boys get their fingers out in terms of fitness.
“The lads played Tuesday night and then came in for a double session on Wednesday.
“And they’ve been working hard in the build up to the Retford game.
“It’ll be exactly the same again next week.”
Dickov reassured that it not merely hard running his players are being put through during pre-season.
Signs were clear in the friendly at Frickley that Dickov is imposing a flowing, passing style of play on his side.
And he admits it was pleasing to see that put into practice.
He said: “We’re looking at fitness levels but we’re looking at whether the players are taking things in as to what we’re doing with the ball.
“We want to pass the ball without being stupid.
“We’ve worked them hard with a view that we want them to be able to handle the ball when they’re tired as well.
“That’s the most important time of the game.
“When you’re strong and fitter than the opposition and you know when you’re tired you can handle the ball comfortably then you’ve got a chance.”
Both Dean Furman and Jean-Yves Mvoto are likely to play in today’s friendly at Retford (3pm).