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Bristol City players begin building fitness levels ahead of next season

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 20, 2014

Bristol City players will be beginning their own training schedules this week ahead of a return to squad training in early July PICTURE DOUGIE ALWARD/JMP

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Bristol City players will embark upon pre-season training this week – less than a month after completing their League One campaign at Crawley.

Although the players are not expected to report back to the club's Failand training headquarters until July 1, manager Steve Cotterill has given every player a fitness programme to follow during the intervening weeks.

Intent upon improving the overall fitness levels of his first-team squad, Cotterill is insisting his charges set themselves high standards.

"All of the lads have their own individual schedule to follow and pre-season for them begins this week," said Cotterill.

"The days when players could take a couple of months off and then pitch up a stone overweight are gone and they all realise that. All of the players will do a 40-minute workout three times a week over the next month or so to ensure they are in the right condition when they come back later in the summer.

"I cannot control what players do in their own homes, but they all understand these days that you have to watch your diet. These fitness programmes are designed to ease them back into a decent level of fitness by the time the really hard work begins in July."

Cotterill will tailor his pre-season preparations to try to avoid unnecessary injuries.

A number of City players were sidelined during pre-season last year and the manager claims his priority is to have a full-strength squad from which to select for the opening game of the League One campaign on Saturday, August 9.

He said: "Getting to the start of the new season with no injuries is a key factor and that will be uppermost in my mind when the players report back.

"The fitness schedules the players are now following have all been drawn up with injury prevention in mind.

"In the old days, you took eight weeks off, came back heavier and then went straight into the really hard work.

"We've come a long way since those days and things are done more scientifically now. It's all about ensuring the players are in good condition when they come back to work, so that injuries do not occur.

"It is so easy to pick up an injury in July if you've done nothing over the course of the summer."

City's players will report back for a series of fitness tests on July 1. Pre-season training will commence at Failand the following day.

Asked whether he feels fitness levels need to improve, Cotterill said: "Players have to want to do it."

He added: "Any footballer's fitness can be improved. You can bawl and shout at them all you like and give them as many running drills as you like, but you can only push them as far as they are prepared to go.

"I prefer to encourage them, rather than flog them. Pre-season is always a difficult time for players, but if you work hard and don't miss a single day, then you can end up feeling like a million dollars by the start of the season.

"There is no bigger encouragement than knowing you can outrun your opponent in the first game of the season."

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