JACKIE McNAMARA admits the hard graft starts now for his Partick Thistle squad as the Jags boss prepares his side for the new season.
Thistle returned to pre-season training yesterday morning with McNamara putting his players through two sessions in a bid to shake off any summertime rust.
With their Ramsdens Cup first-round clash against Clyde just a month away – and League Cup and Irn-Bru First Division matches to follow on subsequent weekends – time is of the essence as the Jags attempt to literally hit the ground running once the competitive action gets underway.
McNamara said: "We had a running test yesterday morning and all the boys have come back from their break in good shape.
"The days of players coming back really unfit are gone to be honest.
"They are a good, professional group. They have had a holiday and time to relax, but they are keen to get back into it.
"We gave them plans to stick to so that they weren't coming back in and starting from scratch.
"They have got a bit of fitness behind them. We will be doing a lot of sports science with them.
"We had the yo-yo test on Monday morning to test their fitness levels and it was the same last year. In the afternoon, it was runs with the ball.
"You are not running as quickly when you have the ball at your feet, but you are having to work harder because you are focusing on the ball."
Thistle's four summer signings – Hugh Murray, Steven Lawless, Aaron Muirhead and Sean Welsh – joined McNamara's squad for the first day of training at Pollok Country Park yesterday.
And the Firhill gaffer admits there could still be more new faces before the big kick-off. He said: "We could bring in another striker.
"We have a lad, James Craigan, in with us for a couple of weeks so we will see how things go. He was at Preston for a couple of years and played in the same university team as Mark McGuigan.
"He has come in and we will have a look at him. He did impress us in one game and caught the eye. We weren't sure if he was free or available at that time. He did well in the game.
"We signed Mark after being alerted to him during that game and he has proved to be a success so far. It is difficult to judge him this week, but we will see how he does next week when we start doing some ball work and playing games.
"Then we will be able to get a clearer picture. Alan Trouten is doing pre-season with us as well. It is just to give him training facilities at the moment. We will see what happens. Again, though, it is down to finances."