Defender looking forward to friendlies
As he prepares to begin his third season at the club, defender Michael Smith finds himself among the more experienced members of the squad.
But, like every other member of John Ward's outfit, he's already looking forward to the start of the new season which is now only a month away.
"It's been fantastic for me here at Rovers and I'm looking to progress and improve again. It's the same every season, in that you learn new things from different people. The gaffer has been fantastic with me, as have all the other staff, and continues to help me."
The players have been back in training for two weeks now and things appear to be going as planned.
"Pre season is always tough, but the boys are responding well . The gaffer and fitness coach Mark Hammond have sorted things out well and, compared to last year, everything is very structured.
"I think everyone is enjoying training and looking really sharp. We are always told, in the morning, what the plans are for the rest of the day and that's a huge benefit. I think we already had the stamina required, given the work we all did prior to our return, and the emphasis is on short, sharp, and intense sessions."
There is also an emphasis on injury prevention.
"When you have a break from playing your muscles tend to seize up a bit but we do a good warm up before each training session, which can last for up to half an hour, and that aids injury prevention. That's brilliant, and all the boys have responded well to it."
Next week the players head of to Lincolnshire for a training camp, before beginning their pre season friendly fixtures with a game against Bath City next Friday.
"It's always good to get away with the boys for a week, and simply concentrate on our football.
"As for the friendly fixtures playing games is the test to see how fit you are, and the best way to gain match sharpness, so the quicker the games come the better. "
David Clarkson and Matt Harrold, who both missed large chunks of last season through injury, are back in training and looking sharp, while Matt Gill and Garry Kenneth are close to returning after their injury problems, so there will be experience in depth for the manager to call on.
However there is also a talented crop of youngsters available to the manager, some of whom have already made an impression in training.
"We knew of the younger lads, of course, and they are all excellent players. In Shaquille Hunter and Alefe Santos we have a couple of flair players, but all of the young lads are great to train with. The gaffer will get the best out of them and they are responding well to the demands of full time training so far. None of them have looked out of their depth and will be ready to step into the team if called on."