Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has made a ‘Little’ addition to both the PNE squad and his backroom staff over the summer.
Striker Andy Little was snapped up from Rangers to boost the attack, and it has been new fitness coach Tom Little overseeing pre-season training at Springfields.
Grayson took the chance to bring in conditioning expert Little after he left Birmingham City in the close season.
Previous to working at St Andrews, he was Huddersfield’s fitness coach when Grayson was manager there.
Fitness, strength, recovery and injury-prevention are all regarded as high priority by North End, hence Little’s arrival on the staff,
“Tom has a lot of experience and expertise,” Grayson told the Evening Post.
“He is a strong character who knows his stuff and it is great to have him here.
“This time last year we brought in Adrian Lamb as fitness coach and he did really well.
“His work didn’t go unnoticed because he got offered the chance to work at Toronto in the MLS.
“When he left we brought in Ronan Kavanagh who worked for a GPS system company to finish the season off.
“We were pleased with Ronan but when Tom was talking about leaving Birmingham, it was a great opportunity for us to work together again.
“Ronan has stayed on to help out Tom but also do the work with the GPS heart-rate system which we have in place.
“Tom does all the warm-ups, speed endurance work and the weights circuits, while Ronan is there to analysis the data which comes from the heart monitors after every training session.
“With that data we can see if the players are working hard enough or working too hard.
“The tracking system we have on board can help us stay ahead of the game in terms of being able to detect if a player is getting fatigued before it gets to the stage where he pulls a muscle.
“Injury prevention is a big part of what we do here, football has moved on and it is not a case of players turning up at 10am for training and being home by 1pm.
“They come in for breakfast and then move on to do their injury-prevention work in the gym before training.
“After training they have yoga, recovery sessions and ice baths.
“At the moment they are doing double training sessions as we build-up towards the new season.
“Everything which the top players are doing, we are doing too.”
The North End players are a week into pre-season training, the exception being Bailey Wright who was given extra holiday time after being in Australia’s squad at the World Cup – he is due back early next week.
Grayson was pleased with the condition in which the squad returned to work following the summer holidays.
“The players all kept to the plans which we gave them to do over the summer,” said the North End boss.
“What they had to do during the summer depended on how much they had played last season.
“The outline was for them to shut down and do nothing for two or three weeks.
“Then gradually they came back into it with work in the gym, some light jogging and a bit of longer stuff – the high speed runs needed to get their muscles in tune for the intense work we do in pre-season.
“Since they have come back, they have done everything asked of them, whether that be the ball work or the running.
“There is no easy way round pre-season training, it has to be done.
“How we approach it has changed from 15-20 years ago when all we seemed to do was run for weeks on end.”