As the Blues sprint into their third full week of training there are already signs of a group that is gelling quickly, with the players looking fit and sharp despite the extremely heavy workload they’ve been dealt.
“I’m really pleased to be honest,” manager Paul Simpson said when asked how things were going. “It’s about the fitness levels at the moment, and they’ve had two-and-a-half tough weeks.
“It’s about getting the distances in the legs and we’re now building up with more high speed running. They’ve done more of that again today [Friday] and we’re expecting to see more of that in Saturday’s game.
“We want the players to push themselves, as they did against Penrith and Kendal, because it would be easy to just fall into a nice and relaxed mode.
“I think the players have avoided that and they’re working really well in training and certainly in the games. Now we’ve just got to keep that going.”
Modern technology means there’s nowhere to hide with players tracked by GPS and heart monitoring systems every step and stride of the way.
“A lot of it what we do is based on the science side of things,” he explained. “Myself, Jamie and Gav have an idea of what we want out of training, but I have to say that the elements of the football we want to get in there are also important.
“I won’t have Jamie coming to me saying ‘they’ve done too much, can you stop’ - that won’t happen because if I feel they need to do more football and that involves more running, then that’s life.
“It’s like on Friday, we had Jon Mellish who had hit the targets in terms of the high speed running during the session, but the others hadn’t, so they did a bit more to top it up at the end while he watched.
“We have an idea of what we believe is the right distance to get into the legs before we go into the games, and I’m not saying that science is always right, but there’s an experience and knowledge that goes with that. We put all of it together and hopefully we come up with the right plan.”
Part of the programme so far have been sessions on match days, including ahead of the first two summer fixtures.
“We’re doing that because it’s pre-season,” he told us. “We want the players to be stretched, and they’ve only playing 45 minutes at the moment, even though some played longer at Workington.
“It’s about getting to their numbers - we have set numbers we want them to achieve - and if we don’t train ahead of each game it means we’re missing out on a session.
“It’s also about getting that resilience and ability to get up and go again when you start to feel a bit tired. That’s what will happen during the season because we’ll be playing games on Saturday then on Tuesday or Wednesday, and then we’ll back at it the following Saturday as well.
“The body has to be able to withstand it. We’re not in a position where we’re going to have a situation of squad rotation, we’re not that fortunate, and I don’t think players really want that either.
“These lads have got to be able to sustain it for 46 league games and hopefully quite a few cup games as well. If they can do that, we’ll have half a chance.”