ASSISTANT MANAGER Mark Bowen admits the players will be thrown straight in at the deep end when they arrive in Germany for their pre-season training camp later this week.
The Potters are scheduled to fly out to the south of the country on Friday morning where they will spend twelve days on the Austrian border.
Three testing fixtures have been pencilled in for the side during their stay, against top-flight duo Borussia Monchengladbach and FC Schalke 04 as well as 2.Bundesliga outfit 1860 Munich.
“It will be a very hard twelve days for us out there because we have three very difficult games against very good standard opposition,” Bowen told stokecityfc.com.
“The German sides have been back in training for a couple of weeks longer than us too so they will be ahead of us in terms of their preparation and fitness.
“You don’t really want to be playing in matches against teams who are behind you in terms of fitness, and you certainly don’t want easy games in pre-season.
“As soon as the season kicks off it can be hard to judge exactly where you are at if you have played against certain teams who are way behind you in levels of fitness.
“I know it’s an old cliché but to a certain degree results don’t matter at this time of year for us. It is all about getting the lads through these tough games against good opponents.”
He added: “We will be looking to see how they stand up to the test physically but we will also be looking at things like ball retention and a few other things as well.”
Bowen says he sensed the anticipation amongst the first team squad to build upon their success last season – a campaign that ended in record breaking fashion courtesy of a first ever Premier League top-ten finish.
“You just sense the whole club is in a really good place at the moment on the back of what we achieved last season, so we want that to continue,” the former Welsh international added.
“All of the coaching staff and all of the lads are really excited about the coming season and we want to continue from where we left off.
“We may find that teams approach us a little bit differently this season – maybe they will show us that little bit more respect which will cause different kinds of problems for us.
“Those are just some of the challenges that we will have to overcome in the season, but we are focussed and we will be making sure that over the course of the next four or five weeks that we put in the necessary work to ensure we are ready for the start of the campaign.”