PAUL COOK has vowed Pompey’s players will not be flagging in the fitness department during their League Two assault.
The Blues have been in training since June 24 ahead of their third campaign in the bottom division of the Football League.
I want a fit team who can press, who can work hard, who can sustain a pattern of play for 90 minutes and not fade awayPaul Cook
The majority of that time has seen the players pitched into three training sessions a day, often not finishing until after 5pm.
It’s a summer regime which has consisted of visits to Ballys boxing gym and six-mile runs along Southsea seafront.
And Cook explains his gruelling approach is designed to ensure Pompey’s players will be at optimum fitness for the challenges ahead.
‘If you are a fan you want to know the players are working hard and I think as manager you have got that responsibility and duty to see it through,’ said Cook.
‘When the players don’t play well now and again I will defend them. The reason why I will defend them is because I know how hard they have worked – if they are not working hard I cannot defend them.
‘I want a fit team who can press, who can work hard, who can sustain a pattern of play for 90 minutes and not fade away.
‘If we are to be a passing team people think you just pass. But you must work hard to find space and these lads will also improve in aspects of handling the ball.
‘This pre-season we have held triple sessions a day, with each session aimed at physical fitness and recovery. Recovery could be going in the sea near the D-Day Museum like we did the other day.
‘These are the things that we do and why not? We are trying to instil a little bit of discipline into the whole football club and must conduct ourselves like that.
‘Most of what we have done is very normal and something we also had at Chesterfield.’
Similarly, Pompey’s fixture schedule has also been tough, with five matches recently played over a 14-day period.
These have yielded three wins and two draws, with a trip to Gillingham on Saturday to come.
And Cook is seeking for his players to be taken out of their fitness comfort zone.
He added: ‘If you have got that ability to dig in sometimes you will find a way on the pitch.
‘I believe nowadays with sports science the players are overprotected and can hide within it. Sports science is fantastic for the game, but I do think there are parts that we must think about.
‘There is no room in it for pain and when you have to dig in, like running into the wind on Southsea seafront. It also doesn’t like us running on concrete.
‘Some away pitches are like playing on concrete now and again!
‘You have got to dig in and I do believe every now and again the players have to come out of their comfort zone and dig in.’