Preston North End winger Chris Humphrey believes it will be a fitter and stronger Lilywhites side which tackles League One in the forthcoming season.
The end of a demanding pre-season programme is in sight for the PNE squad, with today’s clash with Leicester City (3pm) their final friendly.
Fitness coach Tom Little, who joined the staff during the summer, has put the players through some tough sessions.
And Humphrey says they are feeling the benefit with the 2014/15 campaign just a week away from kick-off.
North End’s No.7 told the Evening Post: “We have worked really hard, a lot harder than last year.
“I’m not saying that last year wasn’t good, it is just that things have been different this time around.
“Tom has come in and worked us unbelievably hard these last few weeks.
“After the disappointment of the end of last season, we needed to come back in and work hard.
“The gaffer felt we needed that. That could have been down to anything but he might have thought we weren’t fit enough come 80 minutes when we conceded a few goals.
“It is no problem for me, all the lads have got used to the training, we are all fit and all raring to go.”
Humphrey admits he found the early stages of pre-season rather tough as a result of international duty eating into his summer break.
The 26-year-old played four games for Jamaica on both sides of the Atlantic, the final match seeing the Reggae Boyz given an 8-0 hammering by France in Paris
“When I first came back I spoke with the gaffer and he asked me how I felt,” said the former Motherwell man.
“I told him I would give it a good go and what I noticed to start with was that the other boys were flying.
“It probably took me a week-and-a-half to find my feet again but since then I have been absolutely fine.
“The training has been more intense, with double sessions, running in the morning and afternoon and the football work too.
“Tom has come in and done what he has needed to do, he’s stamped his authority on the place as a fitness coach which is great.
“He has brought in a couple of new things which the lads have adapted to.
“We have our yoga on a Thursday to help our muscles out. You can’t say the club don’t prepare well because we have everything we need.
“I’m really looking forward to the season, the gaffer has made some great signings.
“We have one more friendly to play before the proper stuff starts next week.
“I think the gaffer will be looking at the Leicester game as being a big preparation for the season.
“Leicester will be similar to Burnley I would think.
“Against Burnley we played well in patches and just a few things needed improving in the first half. In the second half we did well and a win is a win, no matter who you play against.
“We have learned lessons from last season, we’ve talked about it and moved on.
“It would be good to start this season well like we did last year.”