Tom Little brought with him a wealth of sport science experience when he became Preston North End’s fitness coach in the summer.
Little has worked for a host of clubs over the last 16 years and his move to Deepdale saw him reunited with Simon Grayson after being on his staff at Huddersfield.
He oversees all elements of conditioning at PNE, his task being to get the players to a peak level of fitness and keep them there.
“This is my 16th year working in professional football,” Little told the Evening Post.
“When I first started in the business, I worked for a consultancy firm when sports science was really in its infancy.
“Clubs did not tend to have a specific member of staff to work on fitness.
“So they would bring us in on a short-term basis to work on certain conditioning elements.
“I was fortunate enough to go into some good clubs on that basis – Manchester City, Bolton, Wigan.
“Eventually clubs wanted full-time fitness staff and since then I have had roles at Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Burnley, Huddersfield, Birmingham City and now Preston.
“I’m like the littlest hobo I suppose with having moved around a lot!
“I first met Simon Grayson when he came in as manager at Huddersfield – I had been working there with Lee Clark.
“Sometimes you don’t get a chance when a new manager comes in but thankfully Simon gave me my chance and kept me on.
“We forged a good working relationship there and I jumped at the chance to come to Preston in the summer.
“Last season I was working at Birmingham which was a great club.
“But I live in Glossop, I didn’t want to move my family in the first year and the travelling to Birmingham every day was hard work.
“Someone had left Preston and Simon asked me if I fancied coming here.
“I might have moved down a division from the Championship to League One but this is a big club with its fan base, structure and how the owner finances it.
“This was definitely the right move for me to make and I love the job.”
Little is kept busy looking after different aspects of the players’ fitness.
There is close liaison and planning with Grayson and his coaching staff to make sure the right work is done at the right time.
Said Little: “At Premier League clubs, there are a lot of staff doing very specific roles.
“I prefer the kind of job I’m doing here when you get your hands dirty working in multiple departments.
“I’m in charge of the overall training loads, the planning and the background.
“What you do on a certain day depends on how close to a game you are.
“I oversee the strength and power work and the injury prevention work which is a crucial side of the game.
“There is the health side of it too – nutrition, body fat levels, overall health.
“There is a lot of planning involved. We have a long-term plan which is basically when the games are, when we can work them harder and when we need to rest them.
“Then we have a six-week plan which is more detailed, then a weekly plan which has even more detail in it.
“We have daily meetings before training and I always do a report on the previous session.”
The PNE squad’s first taste of Little came during what was a gruelling pre-season training campaign.
“Pre-season was five weeks and three days, we had to train and fit seven friendly games in,” said Little.
“When the chance comes to work them hard, you have to take it.
“In League One with so many games, if you look at the number of conditioning days you get during a season, it probably boils down to only a dozen or so.”