Sheffield United must aim to be the fittest team in League One next season, writes James Shield.
Manager Nigel Clough issued the challenge to his players after seeing them installed as early favourites to win promotion.
United’s first team squad, who host Turkish heavyweights Fenerbahce as part of their preparations for the 2014/15 campaign, reported for training at the Redtooth Academy on Thursday.
“We have always tried to be the best conditioned team,” Clough said. “No matter where we have been or what division we have been in.
“We know what a tough competition this is and so we want to give ourselves every advantage possible. Even the smallest of percentages is capable of making a big difference in terms of results.”
Together with his assistant Gary Crosby and coach Andy Garner, Clough led United from 21st to seventh in the table last term after being appointed in October. The former England international has previously been in charge of Burton Albion and Derby County.
United begin their pre-season schedule at Albion on July 19 before visiting Northampton Town (22) and York City (August 2). They entertain Huddersfield Town on July 29 before Fenerbahce, the reigning Super Lig champions, arrive in South Yorkshire 48 hours later.
“We’ve chosen every one of these games for a reason,” Clough said. “This is a very important part of our planning for what we know will be a hard-fought race.”