OWEN Coyle praised the “great spirit” in the Rovers squad as they were put through their paces on the first day of pre-season training.

The players, minus Euro 2016 duo Shane Duffy and Corry Evans, underwent a series of strenuous fitness tests as the new manager cast his eye over the group for the first time.


Coyle, who obviously loved being back in the thick of it, said his stars had returned to Brockhall in good shape as he looks to build-up to the six pre-season fixtures and then the start of the Championship, which is now less than six weeks away.

He said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. That’s, as you know, when we’re at our best – relaxed among the group and working with them on a daily basis to try to improve individually and collectively.

“It’s just great to get everybody in.

“Obviously, Corry and Shane are still at the Euros at the moment. They’ll get a couple of week’s rest and then will rejoin the group in the middle of the pre-season.

“But to get the boys in was fantastic.

“There was a natural enthusiasm, a great spirit about it and I certainly enjoyed it.”

The punishing ‘bleep test’ formed part of day one’s schedule, with the players also being assessed by the physios and medical staff.

When asked how the pre-season schedule will shape up, Coyle said: “The game has moved on, as we know.

“There’s a lot with sports science and and analytics and such forth, so it’s important you pay attention to that.

“Today was really ascertaining the fitness levels of the players because the sooner we get them to level we’re happy with, then we can get the ball moving and rolling and that’s what we want to do – be comfortable with that ball, passing and moving.

“It was a great day and I’ve got to say the players were a credit to themselves.

“They’ve come back in good shape and you can tell they’ve looked after themselves. That is great for us because it allows us tomorrow to get back in amongst the ball and get it moving.” and the preparations start building up for what’s going to be a busy but important pre-season.”