Boss Curle says Cobblers players will have a ball during pre-season - but it is going to be 'a challenge'

The Cobblers players running at Moulton College (Pictures: Matt Derrig)
The Cobblers players running at Moulton College (Pictures: Matt Derrig)

There isn’t going to be any 10-mile runs, there isn’t going to be any ploughing up and down steep hills or sprinting up and down terrace steps, there isn’t even going to be lap after lap of an athletics track.

But pre-season is still going to be very demanding, and a huge ‘challenge’ for the Cobblers squad.

Cobblers players training at Moulton College

Cobblers players training at Moulton College

The players reported back for training on Wednesday morning following their summer break.

The whole squad, including all nine new signings and transfer-listed pair Joe Bunney and Billy Waters, were at the PTS Academy Stadium for fitness checks in the morning, before getting into the first training session at Moulton College in the afternoon.

And although it is nearly always the case that the modern player keeps himself in shape, there is still some trepidation as they psych themselves up for six weeks of hard graft to get themselves 100 per cent right ahead of the opening day of the season on August 3.

As a player, Curle experienced some ‘horrendous’ pre-seasons, back in the day when it was all about running, running, running, and then a bit more running.

Billy Waters, Shaun McWilliams and Nicky Adams on the run

Billy Waters, Shaun McWilliams and Nicky Adams on the run

Players wouldn’t see a football for days or weeks at a time, and although Curle is a manager who will get the players out on the training pitch with a ball at their feet as quickly as possible, he will also be making sure they get the miles in the tank they need.

So, what can the Cobblers players expect from a Curle pre-season?

“Demands,” said Curle. “Although I quite enjoyed pre-season as a player, because I was able to run.

“It is a challenging and demanding environment that we put the players through, and although it’s not new school versus old school, I do have a good understanding of what’s needed.

Sam Hoskins stretches out during the morning fitness tests

Sam Hoskins stretches out during the morning fitness tests

“The best way to get fit for football is to play football.

“When I look back to some of my pre-seasons, they were horrendous, with probably the biggest ones that stand out in my mind being when I was at Wimbledon.

“We used to go on six mile, seven, eight mile runs as a standard, and some of the army camps we used to go to were brutal.

“I think time has moved on from that now, but we will still make demands and challenge the players, not just physically but mentally as well.

Harry Smith and Matty Warburton

Harry Smith and Matty Warburton

“When they think they have done enough, or they think they have emptied the tank and have not got another one in them, they will be surprised because I will get another one out of them.

I don’t do any running outside of a football pitch, the dynamics within it. But we will do a lot of running!”

This will be Curle’s first pre-season as Cobblers boss, having taken over from Dean Austin in October last year, so does he see this is a fresh start for him at the club? The chance to really stamp his authority on things?

“Right from day one I have thrown myself into the football club, and I have a good understanding of the heartbeat of the football club, how it wants to run, and the way it needs to run,” he said.

“Am I ready for pre-season? I was probably ready three days after last season ended, and was ready to start again. The season hasn’t really ended for me, because myself, Simon Tracey and Colin West have been working throughout the summer, identifying talent, meeting talent.

"It’s not only the players in the changing room that we have met, we have met a few who, for various reasons, haven’t put pen to paper.

“There are some we have met that haven’t fitted what we want, there are some we would have liked to bring to the football club, but weren’t able to compete, whether that be financially or down to the league we are in at the minute.

“There has been a lot of work done, although I did enjoy my three days off in the summer!”