Chesterfield’s players were put through the ringer last night in the toughest pre-season session they’ve had to date.
In terms of difficulty it rated as 9.9 out of 10 for some players, which raised a hearty chuckle from the man who devised it.
Gary Caldwell has used the session before for his teams and believes its benefits are numerous.
Having stretched and warmed up, the players worked on ball retention and pressing to nick possession.
Then they split into groups and had to do 15 seconds of hard running with 15 seconds of rest, six times.
Without a break they were thrown straight into a small sided game.
After a short drinks interval it was back into the running, then another game.
And so on and so on, until you could see exhaustion taking hold.
Caldwell is very fond of his creation.
“It’s something I came up with myself, I’ve done it in every pre-season,” he said with a wry smile.
“We keep talking about having to play when you’re tired, having to run and get the ball back and then keep it.
“It’s a great drill for that, you can see people are tired, people are giving everything and still have to want to get to the ball, want to score.
“It will never be harder than that, football. So we’re training them at a level that when it comes to the game it should be easy.”
And the Spireites boss was pleased with how his squad applied themselves.
When anyone was struggling they were roared on by team-mates and there was a huge amount of effort on display until the very final whistle.
He said: “I think it’s outstanding. Everyone is together, everyone is working extremely hard.
“There’s obviously levels of fitness but everyone is pulling each other through it.
“You feel great now, you go back and get a shower and feel great, you’ve come through it and feel strong.
“You would rather do it than have to sit out - the boys with niggles missed out on something.”
Those missing out on the full session included Kristian Dennis (calf), Chris O’Grady (blisters) and Jerome Binnom-Williams (ankle).
Jordan Sinnott, who returned today after a few days off with a sore quad, had to come off the training pitch early again this evening.
Two of the youngest tour party members, Joe Rowley and Charlie Wakefield, were put through a different session because of their age and physical maturity.
Caldwell isn’t too concerned about the niggly injuries.
“You don’t want it but when you’re working at this level of volume and intensity you’re going to get niggles,” he said.
“You have to expect that but fortunately we’ve got the staff who can deal with it.”
Chesterfield are to train again tomorrow morning and Saturday morning with two lighter, more tactical sessions planned.
Then it’s the second and last match of the trip, against Middlesbrough at Vila Real de Santo Antonio.
“We’ve got a difficult challenge against a quality side and another big physical effort,” the boss added.