First team coach Steve Thompson took charge of training on Thursday, with new manager Alex Neil having a watching brief on his first day at Springfields.
The PNE boss will also watch from the stands when Preston North End get their pre-season fixture programme underway on Friday night against Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
And Thompson, who has guided the Lilywhites for their first week back in training says that the squad have come back in good shape: “Pre-season has changed so much since I used to play. Tom [Little] has given the lads their fitness programmes to do during the summer and they have come back in great shape,” he told PNE.Com.
“You can get the balls out almost straight away and start working on things, whereas before you wouldn’t see a ball for one or two weeks, but now we do things in the first two or three days and they have done great.
“They are all fit and raring to go and it is geared up for that first game against Bamber Bridge.
“We will probably give them two 45 minutes, two different teams, just to see how the fitness levels are, but the most important thing is not to come out with any injuries.
“First and foremost from these games, you don’t want any silly injuries. You want to try and keep the ball, work it and try and get your fitness levels up and in the 45 minutes play to your shape.
“With the new manager coming in we will be taking on board what he wants, what shape he wants to do and the work ethic has been there in training. It is an important fitness exercise and it is very early, but both teams will no doubt be looking to impress their respective managers.
“When the lads see the games coming up you have to make sure they are ready for it. They won’t be ready for 90 minutes yet; you can’t force that on them straight away, but you can get into good habits – as we have in training. We think they are up to speed and it gives them a chance to get into a matchday mode and with the games coming, we can tailor the training accordingly.”
The annual short trip to ‘Brig’ is one that Steve enjoys: “It is great that we are helping a local club,” he continued. “I have got good connections with Bamber Bridge because my lad used to play there and it is a great set up.
“Hopefully we can get a lot of Preston North End fans there, get a big attendance and it helps their coffers as well. It is a fantastically run club, it is great we are going down there and hopefully it will be a good match for both teams.”
The end to the summer off couldn’t come quick enough for one or two players, who have put injuries behind them.
The likes of Calum Woods, Greg Cunningham and Tom Barkhuizen, who underwent hernia operation just days after the end of last season, will be looking to show their hard work in the summer was worth the effort.
“The lads who had the injuries last year, including the two or three who had operations in the summer, they can join in the training where there is no physical contact. They will have been in over the summer, so they might actually be a bit ahead of the other lads.
“It is important that it is a clean slate for everyone and they will be out to impress the new manager.
“Every time you put a session on they are fantastic bunch here. They do not need the new manager to be training at a high tempo, but they will be looking to impress.
“They give you everything here, the players and the staff, and I am sure they will buy into the new manager’s work ethics and what he expects from them and with one or two more additions it can be an exciting season ahead.”
‘Tommo’ also paid tribute to the players and staff and their attitude during the past seven days, whilst he has steered the ship.
“It came as a surprise last week. I was on holiday until last Wednesday and came back in and it all started on Thursday.
“We lost three members of staff and we wish them all well, they have done great for us - Simon, Snods and Ian Miller.
“Nick Harrison came in to help and me and Kells have been taking things. We have been organised, we have tried to vary it as much as we can and every day we had meetings and knew what we were doing.
“It has flowed and we will now buy into the manger’s philosophy of what he wants to do,” he added.
You can pay on the turnstiles at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Friday night or if you can’t get to the game you will be able to watch the game streamed live through the iFollow Premium service, with Jonathan Breeze and former PNE skipper Ian Bryson on air from 6.45pm for the 7pm kick-off.
This fixture will only be able to watched on a desktop device, it will not be streamed to mobile devices, with the new iFollow App due to launch in the coming weeks.