STOKE CITY Assistant Manager Mark Bowen revealed his excitement at returning to pre-season training on Wednesday following a record-breaking 2013/14 Premier League campaign.
The Potters, who secured a landmark ninth place finish in the top-flight last term, made the short journey to St George’s Park in Burton-Upon-Trent where they undertook a series of fitness and medical tests following their eight-week break.
Speaking exclusively to Stoke City Player
Bowen said: “It’s actually really nice to be back in again and getting down to work with the players - It’s a bit like the first day at school really.
“There is that little bit of nervousness coming back in again and getting to see the boys together again, and the four new lads we have brought in too.
“There is a lot of excitement there as well, just as there always is, because it is good to get back as a group and start preparations for the new season.”
Summer acquisitions Mame Biram Diouf, Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley and Dionatan Teixeira were all present at the state of the art complex in Staffordshire – four players Bowen is delighted to have on-board.
“I don’t think it can be underestimated that we have done some really good business early on this summer,” the former Norwich City star said.
“It doesn’t always happen that way, but we certainly believe that having them here with us now, on day one, is beneficial to us all.
“Sometimes when you bring players in a little later in the window it can take a while for them to settle, but by having them here today they are in a similar situation to us all in many regards.”
The first team squad were put through 90 minutes of medical and fitness tests before undertaking a challenging running examination out on the pitches at a facility that Bowen describes as ‘world class’.
“It’s fabulous to be able to come here, to a world class facility that is pretty much on our doorstep,” Bowen added.
“It’s just a case of putting the lads through one or two tests to check their condition and put them through their paces a little bit on the field today.
“The balls will be out tomorrow morning though for sure, because we feel it is important for them to get used to controlling the ball again.
“We don’t really see the need of having the lads running around all day, we prefer to give them good work with the balls – we feel that is important for them.”