Stoke players prepare for the big time
Stoke City's first team squad reported back for the official start of pre-season training today and the boss, Tony Pulis, promised them that it will be a week before they get to kick a ball.
Pre-season is traditionally not a favourite time for a professional footballer but this time around the players have the challenge of Premier League football to look forward to and this should make the arduous slog through the 'bleep test' and the fitness regimes seem brighter.
Such is the anticipation several players have been appearing for voluntary fitness training at the Michelin training ground over the last two weeks as they try and ensure that they can, literally, hit the ground running. We're wondering if that included the big pie-eater himself - Jon 'the Beast' Parkin, who struggled to keep his weight down throughout last season.
The Potters' first public test is the traditional opening match at the Lyme Valley Stadium against Newcastle Town in just over a week's time (Friday 18th July - kick-off 6.45pm).
Stoke still have no new signings, but with all the names being bandied around in recent weeks, we'd like to think that at least one new face should be on show for the match against 'Castle.