How Craig Elliott plans to make Boston United squad the 'fittest in the league'

Manager reveals pre-season training plans after first test evenings...

Elliott wants his squad in top shape for the start of the season. Photo: Oliver Atikin

Craig Elliott has made no secret that he wants his Boston United squad to hit the ground running next season.

The Pilgrims boss prides himself on tough pre-season schedules that get his players primed for the start of the campaign.

Last season was the perfect example as United kicked off action with four wins and a draw in their opening five matches, and were leading Darlington 2-0 in the 87th of match number six before the contest was abandoned.

Boston's first defeat of the season came at AFC Fylde where, returning to the pitch after two weeks of enforced Covid-19 self isolation, the side visibly tired after taking a first-half lead.

Elliott once again wants his squad to get points on the board early, while also making the most of the extra time afforded him after last season was made null and void.

With 14 members of last season's squad signed up and Jordan Preston arriving from Gateshead, the United manager is keen to complete business early so he can begin fitness tests next month.

"We've got three testing nights in the middle of June where we'll test everyone's fitness," Elliott explained, eager to see whether his players have remained in good shape.

"We had testing just over three weeks ago so we have the baseline done.

"We'll re-test them again to make sure they're where we want them to be with bodyfat, weight and bleep test levels."

While United's management team will be casting an eagle eye over the scales and bleep test levels, those evenings in June will offer everyone the chance to be clear on more than just fitness.

"I've got one-on-one meetings with the players, just to get my intentions across about how we want to play," Elliott continued.

"We can discuss any problems they have and then we can start training properly three times a week on July 1, when we'll get right into it, as long as they come through testing alright."

Getting 'right into it' may mean Doncaster's dreaded hill runs - just ask Tom Platt - but the good news for the squad is that those nights and afternoons pounding around the Keepmoat won't be drawn out over a long period.

"I do pride myself on my teams being the fittest in the league and it's part of how I like to play," Elliott explained.

"I think that's why I don't want to start pre-season too early. I like to condense it into a two or three week period of intense running and getting the fitness right.

"You've got to balance that this year, make sure you don't start too early.

"I can imagine some teams will start properly in the middle of June and you'll see the friendlies early. I'm not a massive fan of that.

"Instead, that first two or three weeks will be intense."

While managers never quite know what to expect as players return from their holidays, Elliott believes he won't be given too much to worry about from his squad.

He added: "They were in good shape last time we tested. To be honest, they're desperate to play football.

"I think that's the thing with the modern player, it's rare anybody comes back overweight and unfit.

"They're that vain now they want to look good for their Instagram photos, but they're a good bunch."

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