Preston North End’s squad were getting back to down to business today as the clock started ticking towards the new campaign.
Pre-season training was due to get under way later this morning with fitness tests at Springfields.
New boys Josh Harrop and Declan Rudd were due to meet their new team-mates after completing summer moves from Manchester United and Norwich City respectively.
Not all the squad were back today, three of North End’s Irish contingent having been given some extra holiday time.
Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle and Alan Browne will return early next week after being in the Republic of Ireland squad during the summer.
They were on international duty for three weeks, which included Ireland’s friendly with Mexico in New Jersey at the start of June.
Bearing that in mind, PNE manager Simon Grayson has allowed them extra time off.
With Horgan and Boyle, he will also have been aware that they had not had an extended break from football for the best part of 18 months.
The other summer buy to date, Cork’s Sean Maguire, is only joining the squad towards the end of July.
Academy graduates Josh Earl, Melle Meulensteen and Callum Roberts were joining the squad after signing pro contracts in the summer.
PNE have a five-and-a-half week build-up to the 2017/18 campaign, which starts with Sheffield Wednesday’s visit to Deepdale on August 5.
They are scheduled to play seven friendlies, the first against Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium a week tomorrow.
At the forefront of their mind will be making a better start to the season than has been the case in the last two campaigns.
As pre-season goes on, North End will be doing more transfer business.
Kevin O’Connor is due to follow Maguire from Cork, while a centre-half is a high priority on the shopping list.
It is hoped that there can be a return for Aiden McGeady after his successful loan stay last season.
Today’s return could not come quickly enough for PNE right-back Calum Woods.
He suffered a serious knee injury last July and did not kick a ball all last season.
Woods said: “It will be great to be among the lads every day and not stuck in the gym or running with the physio.
“Once the friendlies start, I’ll be looking to get plenty of minutes under my belt.
“It is the matches when you get your full sharpness back in the legs.
“There will be a couple of new faces in the dressing room after Declan Rudd and Josh Harrop joined us.
“Declan’s been here on loan before but that was before I joined the club.
“The signing of Josh is an exciting one – he has come from a massive club and had a taste of the first team at the end of last season.”
Meanwhile, PNE’s home game against Aston Villa has been put back 24 hours to Wednesday, November 1.
The move is due to Villa playing the previous Sunday.