National League North Manager of the Year Dave Challinor is relishing next week’s return to pre-season training ahead of the National League campaign.
Newly-promoted AFC Fylde kick-off their preparations on Monday with a host of new faces on show.
Jordan Tunnicliffe, Zaine Francis-Angol, Lewis Montrose and Henry Jones will join up with their new team-mates for the first time and Challinor, who scooped his prize at the National League’s annual Awards Ceremony, can’t wait to get started.
He said: “We want to create an environment for lads to come in and want to work and improve. We have taken huge strides from where we were at this point last season and we have to continue to do that.
“The aim through pre-season is to get everyone fit and ready for August 5 to make our selection decisions as difficult as possible. To do that, we will need a full squad to pick from.
“The first week we will ease back into it and integrate the new lads into the group. There will be some strength and conditioning involved and we are using the GPS equipment this season so we will get to grips with that too.
“The summer has flown by as usual and now we are looking forward to getting stuck back into it ahead of a new challenge next season.”
Challinor is no stranger to a gruelling pre-season schedule having spent close on 20 years as a professional but admits that preparations have changed drastically since his days of trudging through sand dunes!
“Times have definitely changed, changed a lot,” added Challinor. “When we used to play 50-60 games a season, as soon as the last game finished, we would do very little for eight weeks, if anything at all. Then you would rock back up for pre-season in not the best shape.
“At Tranmere, our first three days we were in the sand and it was horrific. There’s nothing worse than running through sand dunes in 25 degrees of heat when you are out of shape!
“It has definitely changed for the better in the way that pre-season is structured. We will still do a day in the sand, but now it isn’t so much about the physical side, more the mental benefits you take from it.
“You will never come up against that exact physical situation in a game, but mentally there will be times when you have to dig in and have team-mates around you to get you through it.”