Former Huddersfield Town man Tom Clarke is settling in well to his new surroundings as the hard work of pre-season training begins.
The 25-year-old has one advantage over his new teammates however, as he is the only member of the current first team squad to have experienced a Simon Grayson pre-season before and although Clarke knows it will be difficult, he is sure the squad will reap the benefits.
Speaking exclusively to PNE.Com, Clarke said: “The training will be very tough, every manager makes it a tough pre-season and Simon Grayson is no different.
“It will be tough, but we have done a bit so far and the lads look in good shape and are fit, but he will get the balls out as well and it will be just as difficult with the ball.
“Pre-season training is just something that every footballer has to get their head around, you have the summer and although you keep ticking over, you want to come in and you want to start the season as fit as possible and that’s what pre-season is for.
“That is what everyone will do and that is what the gaffer and the fitness coach will get us to do and we will be as fit as we can be for the start of the season.
“With pre-season starting the season seems more real now.
“When I first signed, I wanted to get on with it straight away, so it is good to get in now and the games will come thick and fast pretty soon, so we will get through these couple of weeks pre-season first, which will be tough and then kick on.”
Clarke came up against most of the current PNE squad last season, when playing for the Terriers against the Lilywhites in the first round of the Capital One Cup – a match North End won 2-0.
And with those foes now friends, he has been made to feel at home at Springfields, as well as being impressed with the new training facility that now surrounds him.
“It has been good so far and really easy to settle in,” continued Clarke.
“The lads have been brilliant and welcomed me straight away so it has been good.
“Huddersfield have just got their new training ground so it wasn’t brilliant at first and here the pitches are brilliant, obviously the Academy train elsewhere so the pitches don’t get overused, so since I have come in I have been really pleased with the pitches and everything else such as the food and the gym which is first class.”
Like most footballers, Clarke was keen to see the fixture list as soon as the League One schedule was announced and he is relishing the prospect of coming up against Wolves on the opening day of the season, as well as facing Liverpool in pre-season.
He added: “When the fixtures come out, I was saying to some friends that I wouldn’t mind Wolves to start, big game, big Club and that’s what came out so I’m looking forward to it.
“With the pre-season games, the Club has done tremendous to get Liverpool at our place and it will be a good one for the fans and a good tester for us.”
As someone who has been part of a squad in the Championship as recent as the 2012/13 campaign, the PNE No.5 is in no doubt that he can return their alongside PNE’s current crop of stars.
“This squad is most definitely capable of getting promoted,” stated Clarke.
“When the gaffer came in they went unbeaten for a while at home and showed how good they were and with the additions he has made, we can hopefully make a good start and kick on and there is no reason why we can’t.
“We look good in training so I am looking forward to it.”