They may not like it but East Stirlingshire boss John Coughlin reckons his military-inspired pre-season schedule will do his players a lot of good.
The Shire coach admits the tough regime has led to the usual grumbles but is delighted with the first week of the fitness programme overseen by the club’s new conditioning coach, Barry Carmichael and former military PTI Bryan Johnston.
Coughlin says the sore legs and aching bodies now will soon ease and players will be thanking him when they do not run out of steam towards the end of the season.
“After a couple of sessions you could see some start to suffer,” he said. “But I have no interest in seeing people run into the ground for the sake of it. I have been really impressed with what the fitness guys have been implementing. It is clearly thought out and designed to benefit the players and the team in the long run.
“They may complain now but in a few months they will get the benefit.”
One of the major downsides of the first week of Shire’s pre-season training has been the weather which, even by Scottish standards, has taken Coughlin by surprise.
He says every time the players head for their Little Kerse training base the heavens open. “Normally everyone is in t-shirts and the ground is hard but in every one of our sessions so far it has been torrential rain, and the ground has been quite soft.
“We have plenty of blister packs for players in anticipation of sore feet on bone dry ground when what we should have brought was a bigger supply of rain jackets,” he quipped.
The good news for the players is the hard slog will soon give way to matches and that will allow the boss to whittle down the number of trialists currently hoping to win a contract with the club.
“We are planning on having a closed-door bounce game this Saturday,” he said. “We started the close season with a whole flurry of signings but things have gone quiet since then. A number of players we had our eye on have chosen to go elsewhere and now we are casting the net wider,” said the Shire coach.
“There will be a small first team pool this season and we already have a number of players signed up but I do not want to end up like last season where we were signing players a day before our first competitive game.”
Coughlin already feels the players he has been able to attract to the club will improve their fortunes in the coming campaign and he is sounding a cautiously optimistic note.
“There is still a bit to be done to achieve that but we have made a positive start to the process,” he said.