Sheffield Wednesday: Summer of sweat awaits Owls stars

Owls defender Kamil Zayatte.
Owls defender Kamil Zayatte.
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Pre-season training has changed considerably since the days when Stuart Gray charged up and down the left flank.

“In my day, the first two weeks consisted of cross country running,” said the Owls head coach, whose playing career with Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Aston Villa and Southampton spanned 14 years. “We went on 12 mile runs.

“It was a hard slog and we just ran and ran.

“It is a little different now from when I played 20 plus years ago.

All of Sheffield Wednesday’s squad received their own individual, fitness programmes following the club’s defeat at Ipswich Town on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign.

Gray said: “After the season finished, the players had a two-week break to get over their aches and pains and then they went straight into their individual programmes.

“The players come back fit and that enables us to get the balls out straight away.

“I can then start working on tactics, team shape, working with and without possession.”

The squad will report back for training next Tuesday.

“Pre-season has come around quickly,” acknowledged Gray.

“It will be tough and a bit of everything.

“I’m a great believer in you train how you play and play how you train. Pre-season will be a high intensity. We will be pressing and closing teams down.

“We’ve got a summer where I can stamp my own mark on the team and the way I want the team to play.”

Players who have failed to keep themselves in shape will get found out, insists Gray.

“Come July 1, we will know who has and hasn’t done their programmes,” he said. “The ones who haven’t done them will stick out like a sore thumb and they will be doing extra training.

“But I have got a great bunch of lads who I trust. They are very dedicated and I’ve got every confidence that they will comeback fit.”

Gray says centre-half Kamil Zayatte has recovered from ankle surgery and will train with the rest of the squad. His last Owls outing came in November.