Michael Raynes on pre-season so farDefender Michael Raynes spoke to us ahead of the Tuesday morning training session about pre-season so far.
"Pre-season has been good ... but difficult," he said. "They aren't getting any easier and I think as you get older it gets more difficult because the young lads seem to be getting quicker.
"This little break has been good because some of the lads haven't been able to see their families since we started. We've all been able to get home and relax a bit. When we came back it was like the first day of pre-season again because the lads were buzzing."
"My first few weeks here have been outstanding and I have to thank the lads for that," he told us. "We couldn't have asked for a more welcoming group and all of the new lads have said the same. The atmosphere has been great since we arrived and it's made settling in a lot easier.
"We all seem to be in good shape so we just want to get these next three games out of the way before the big ones start. It was good to play in the three local games because you can't really replicate pitch time in training. It's good to play with the lads and get relationships going. All three games were a good test and we got what we needed out of them.
"We've got another three tough games coming up and I think this stage of the season is when it gets really exciting. It's starting to ramp up and we're playing three teams that are quite local to me, which is always nice."
"I've tried to show people what I'm all about when I've been out there," he said. "We've got a very good, competitive squad and to be successful you need everyone to be pushing each other. We seem to have that at the moment and I'm sure we'll all get a chance to prove our worth.
"You need as much motivation as you can at this level because of that. It's dog eat dog and I think there was probably 5-10% difference between the top and bottom of the league last season. Those little percentages can make a huge difference to how your season goes."
"Everyone is optimistic at the start of the season and we're all looking forward to getting going," he added. "Someone has to have a good season so we're going into it full of hope.
"No one wants to look back at the end of the season and think it had all been rubbish. We've got a good group of lads here and if everyone gels well you never know what can happen.
"Football seasons go very quickly. It's ok thinking you'll be better next time round, but you never know when your last season in the game is going to be. You need to make the most of it and have a right good go at it while you're still involved."