Nicky Adams says players can't afford to slip off the pace over the summer
Cobblers playmaker Nicky Adams believes footballers can no longer afford to come back for pre-season even remotely out of shape.
The Town players returned from their summer breaks on Wednesday morning, and were straight down to work as they were put through fitness tests at the PTS Academy Stadium,. before going to Moulton College to get some running and a bit of head tennis under their belts.
In the not too distant past, pre-season was all about players coming back after a bit of summer excess to get themselves fit, but that is not the case now.
They are expected to be fit when they report back.
Players are all given summer fitness programmes to follow, to ensure they return for duty more or less ready to go, with pre-season used to build on that fitness and sharpness, to ensure everybody is 100 per cent come the first match of the season.
Certainly, the Cobblers squad looked in very good shape on their return, and Adams admits it is not a good idea to come back even remotely behind where a player needs to be.
"I think you have to come back in shape," said Adams, who rejoined the Cobblers this summer after leaving Bury.
"Obviously everybody is different, and some people might have a little break before getting back into it before you report back, but I don't think you can be too far behind.
"Some players will start at different levels of fitness, but I think you have to have a good level, because if you are too far behind then it is hard to catch up.
"Look at the boys here, we have got some really, really talented players in that dressing room, and I am looking forward to it."
That said, and even though players are pretty fit, Adams says there is always still a feeling of dread ahead of what it is going to be close to two months of hard graft.
"I think for everyone, when you come back it is a little bit 'here we go again', but everybody has had a nice break and it is just good to be back," said the 32-year-old..
"You get meet all the new lads, and we all know it is hard work, but you just need to get that hard work done if you want to be successful in the season."
Adams is of course a new signing at the Cobblers, but it was a bonus for him to be returning to a club he knows well.
"I was driving in on Wednesday morning, I phoned Joel Byrom and said 'I am on my own this time!'," said the 2016 Cobblers title winner.
"But like I said when I signed, it is nice to be back here in comfortable and familiar surroundings, and I am looking forward to it.
"The next six weeks will be hard, but I think it will go quick because everybody willbe raring to go when the season starts."