Ryan Flynn is preparing to push himself through the pain barrier after being warned this summer’s pre-season preparations could be the most gruelling of his career.
The Sheffield United winger, whose performances last term have been rewarded with a new contract, told The Star that the likes of Ben Davies, John Brayford and Kieron Freeman predicted manager Nigel Clough will place huge demands on a squad of players expected to challenge for promotion when 2014/15 League One campaign begins on August 9.
Together with Brayford and Freeman, Davies worked with Clough at his former club Derby County and Flynn revealed: “All of the lads who have worked with the gaffer before have left us in no doubt what to expect. They made it pretty clear to the rest of us that it is going to be really, really tough.
“That some of us might not have ever experienced anything like it before. But, to be honest, I think that’s a positive. It means, hopefully, that we’ll be able to hit the ground running and be really ready to go.”
Clough, who guided United from 21st to seventh in the table after being appointed manager nearly eight months ago, has already outlined some of the methods he will employ to try and ensure there is no repeat of the wretched start which cost predecessor David Weir his job after only 13 matches at the helm.
“We always pride ourselves on being the fittest,” he said. “That was the case at Derby and even going back to Burton when we managed to effectively win the Conference even though we were part-time.
“We’re looking forward already to getting the lads back. You’ll have to ask them if they’re looking forward to it! The players who know us will understand what is in store and what we expect. They’ll know what it will be like.”
Davies, who is expected to join on a permanent basis when his release by County is officially confirmed, added: “He [Clough] expects you to work hard and give everything you’ve got for the group.
“You won’t last long if you don’t but, in my experience, what that breeds is a really tight group behind the scenes.
“You know the atmosphere is going to be right because you know that you can rely on the lads around you.”
Flynn, now contracted to United until at least 2016 has scored 13 goals in 121 appearances since joining United from Falkirk in July 2011.
Despite showing glimpses of the talent which persuaded Danny Wilson, then United manager, to invest a significant sum acquiring his services, it was not until Clough’s arrival that he entered a consistent run of form.
“Nothing is over complicated at all,” Flynn said. “You are given a job to do and then expected to try and do your utmost to achieve it.
“The gaffer is demanding but in a good way and, like the rest of his staff, enjoys a laugh and a joke. When it’s time to work, though, your are expected to apply yourself properly which is the way it should be.
“I think the rest of the lads will back me up on this when I say tha, although it’s tough, the training is really enjoyable and that, together with the mood around the place, is why we all look forward to coming in every single day.”
“We didn’t get off to the best of starts last time around as everyone knows and, looking back, that really cost us in the end when you think of the results we were getting towards the back end of the season.
“So that’s not a trap we want to fall into again. We had some really good momentum going and we want that to continue. We want to try, even though we know it won’t be easy, to pick up where we left off.”