Players head for the hills in Bairns pre-season

25-06-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. STIRLING. University. Falkirk training ground. Falkirk Football Club pre-season (2012 -2013) training. Chris Smith, Johnny Flynn and Andy Haworth.

25-06-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. STIRLING. University. Falkirk training ground. Falkirk Football Club pre-season (2012 -2013) training. Chris Smith, Johnny Flynn and Andy Haworth.

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Falkirk's new trio have just endured their first week of Bairns’ pre-season - but they’ve yet to feel the burn of ‘Alex Smith Hill’.

The now notorious incline at the University of Stirling tests players and the calf muscles to the limit - just like the sand dunes at Gullane did to John Greig and Jock Wallace’s Rangers sides.

Andy Haworth, Chris Smith and Johnny Flynn will be hitting the slopes on Saturday, along with the Bairns squad and trialists Luke Leahy and Ashley Thompson.

“I’ve heard about that hill...” new forward Andy Haworth tailed off as he told The Falkirk Herald. “A few of the lads went through it last year. Don’t think I’m looking forward to it, but we’re all in for it so we just have to get it done. It’s all good in the long run.”

And fellow new Bairn Chis Smith added: “The gaffer warned me about it when I came back from holiday and I came in for talks.

“I wasn’t looking forward to seeing it then, and there’s a few hills around the training ground – I don’t know which one it is but whatever one it is, I’m not looking forward to seeing it now!

“No doubt we’ll be seeing it soon though.”

The Bairns are hitting the hill on Saturday a day after Alex Smith returns from his break. It’s an infamous part of what Steven Pressley warned at the tail end of last season is the most intensive pre-season work-out he’s been involved in.

“The first couple of days were really tough,” Smith added. “But since the start of this week I’ve found it a bit better, coming off the break and right into it wasn’t the easiest. I’m hoping this is a good base to build on.

Smith joined from Ayr and Johnny Flynn from Ross County, while Haworth moved north from Bury.

They were led in Monday’s runs by youngsters Craig Comrie and Kyle Turnull (right), but Steven Pressley has been delighted with the entire squad’s early efforts.

“In all my time in football I have never experienced a first week of pre-season training where players showed so much commitment, and desire.

“The attitude has been incredible and the new players and trialists have settled in well.”

Johnny Flynn added: “The boys are all working hard and hopefully that continues and we make a good start.”

Jack Compton didn’t take part this week and David Weatherston’s participation was curtailed early in the week with a tight hamstring.