Preston North End back in pre-season training...but it’s a whole new ball game

Training is back in full swing at Springfields after Preston’s players returned to training at the back end of last week.

By Craig Salmon
Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 4:45 pm

Just a little more than three weeks separated North End’s final game of the season at Bristol City on Wednesday, July 22 to the first day of pre-season training last Thursday.

The squad reported back for the week the previous day for Covid-19 testing and were back on the grass 24 hours later.

It was certainly not a normal summer break for the players – the three weeks or so they had off was a chance to get away on holiday although they had to be careful not to fall foul of any quarantine conditions on their return to these shores if they had flown overseas.

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Ben Davies, Joe Rafferty and Josh Harrop (photo: PNE FC)

Barring Louis Moult, who is still not quite ready to return to full training following his year-long recovery from a serious knee injury, Alex Neil had a full complement of players back on the training pitch.

Neil admitted the unusual set of circumstances brought about by the coronavirus crisis this year means there is a different feel to pre-season.

With such a small window between the end of the 2019-20 season to the start of the new one means the players have not got much general fitness work to carry out.

Instead, they will be working towards gaining match fitness, with the club’s first pre-season friendly scheduled to take place on Saturday.

The players are in pre-season training at Springfields (photos: PNE FC)

The first competitive piece of action is less than a fortnight away as North End welcome Mansfield Town to Deepdale in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

And following the international break, PNE will have their first Championship fixture on September 12.

Neil told ““Obviously it’s a quick turnaround. Some of the lads managed to get away, which is good.

“It’s been tough with the restrictions and different things changing. We had to let a couple of the players know who wanted to go to the likes of Spain which is a normal holiday destination that within that period the restrictions had changed.

“To be fair the lads were good as gold.

“Your fitness isn’t going to diminish too much in the three weeks.

“A lot of them use this as a bit of downtime and not doing too much, which is important because during lockdown they had a programme and had to keep their fitness levels really high at that point so they needed to have a little bit of off time mentally as well as physically.”