MARK HUGHES admits he is eagerly looking forward to Stoke City's preparations for the 2014/15 Premier League season beginning in earnest.
Hughes' first team squad are due to report back to Clayton Wood next Wednesday for the start of pre-season training, five and a half weeks before the Club's first league game of the season against Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium on August 16.
The players will spend the first week of pre-season in the UK before flying to Germany for a 12-day training camp, during which they will play three games and a refreshed and revitalised Hughes cannot wait to get back on the training ground.
He told Stoke City Player: "We're really looking forward to getting back out there and working with the players again.
"This time last year I was coming to a new club and wasn't sure of the group that I had and what capabilities they had.
"Obviously I know exactly what they are capable of now so all the early fact-finding has been done. The group knows exactly what I'm about and know what my standards and expectations of them are and hopefully we can hit the ground running."
Four new signings, Mame Biram Diouf, Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley and Dionatan Teixeira, will be among the players reporting back for duty on Wednesday.
Hughes has confirmed that the Club's World Cup representatives, Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Wilson Palacios and Peter Odemwingie will be given extra time off.