It might be nearly three months until the first ball is kicked in the 2018/19 Premier League season, but Southampton’s players will soon be beginning their preparations in earnest.
Up to five Saints could be involved in this summer’s World Cup, but the rest are currently enjoying a two-week break before undergoing their personal fitness programmes, which lead into pre-season training at the end of June.
Head of sports science Alek Gross has explained how those programmes will be tailored to suit the needs of each player.
“Ultimately, they’re on different schedules,” he said. “For the ones who are going to the World Cup, we effectively hand over the responsibility to their national teams, providing them with all the information on the training they’ve been doing and their gym programmes.
“The boys not involved for their countries have all been given their individual programmes, which vary depending on the individual and their position.
“They get a little down period of a couple of weeks where they only have to do very light exercise – playing golf, going for walks or going cycling.
“After that two-week period, they’ll be on a step progression programme back into pre-season, with on-pitch and in-gym sessions they need to follow to come back in good shape.”
Gross believes Saints’ late season resurgence to preserve the club’s top-flight status will help the players return to Staplewood ready to hit their peak in terms of fitness.
“Looking back on the end of the season, we’ve built a bit of momentum moving forward and the players understand we can’t let that drop off,” he added.
“That motivation will ensure they follow those programmes, come back in pre-season and hit the ground running.
“We’ll be playing friendlies from the first week of pre-season, so they can’t come back without doing any exercise for six weeks.
“Then we have another six-week period and we’ll step increase it to ensure by the end of that period three games a week isn’t a problem, should we be involved in cup competitions.”