ASSISTANT MANAGER Mark Bowen has given a glowing reference to the Football Association's state of the art training centre in Burton-Upon-Trent . . . after the first team squad were put through their paces there on Tuesday.
Mark Hughes and his backroom team took the players, who reported back for pre-season training on Monday, to St Georges Park to undertake rigorous fitness tests ahead of their five day training camp in the south of France.
The Club's newly appointed Head of Science Damian Roden, along with fitness gurus Chris Banks, Andy Davies and Physio Dave Watson were all on hand to monitor the current fitness levels of the City stars.
Bowen, who has served as Hughes' understudy in all of his previous management posts, highlighted the importance of the day, and said there is nowhere better than the national training centre to carry out such important tests.
"We've come here today to St George's Park because the facilities here, particularly the testing and medical facilities are absolutely superb," he revealed to Stoke City Player.
"It's important to have this day where we assess all of the lads in-depth and take a close look at their body mass and heart rates and other things like that.
"In previous years clubs have more often than not done this over two or three days at their own training grounds, but with this place being one of the very best in the country it made sense for us to make the short journey here and conduct it all in one day.
"It's also good for the staff to come down here too, a change is as good as a rest at times, so to come away from the place where we will be doing all of our work throughout the season can only be a good thing for us."
After completing a series of balance and coordination tests inside the facility, the players were then instructed to carry out much more intense running work out on the training pitches under the watchful eye of manager Mark Hughes.
"It's quite unusual today to be honest because the way that Mark usually does his training the balls are pretty much out all of the time, whereas today it will probably be the one time throughout pre-season that they won't be out," Bowen added.
"This is something that has to be done though, because having been inside doing their regular tests the lads then come out here for a running test where we monitor their hearts and how they react after some intense running.
"Predominantly, as I say, Mark tends to like all of the work done with the balls, but you have to gauge a template for each player so that you can assess their condition over the course of the next five or six weeks leading into the new season."
The Potters are now preparing for their five day training camp in France, where Bowen feels the players and management will get a much better understanding of each other from both a professional and personal point of view.
"It's going to be a very important few days for us because it gives us all an opportunity of being in each others company for 24 hours a day, and in that situation you learn a lot about each other.
"We will do a lot of hard work out there in each of the two sessions a day, but as well as that we will have the time to sit down with the lads and get to know them individually, which will be of huge benefit to us all.
"I'm looking forward to the coming weeks and months, and already you can see that there is a great group of players here who are all determined to work hard and get themselves in the best possible condition for the start of the season."