It's now just a matter of days until Selhurst Park will be buzzing once again with the start of the new season almost upon us. The pitch is ready and the stands are awaiting the Palace roar. So what about the players?
Lennie Lawrence gave us his thoughts on how pre-season has gone so far, why it's different to pre-season plans of the past, and how the players are gearing up for the big kick off.
“Many years ago it was totally different,” said Lennie. “The build up to fitness in those days was quicker and more dramatic. There were more long runs, more runs up hills, more distance running, and often you found yourself problems with injuries.”
Nowadays, pre-season is more scientific, as the players all wear heart monitors. Lennie said the biggest difference is the build up to fitness. It's more gradual, and the fitness work is more football related from day one of pre-season.
Over the summer, the players were given a fitness programme by Dougie Freedman to adhere to, which meant they would come back in shape and ready for the rigours of a pre-season campaign. The programmes were designed so that they would fit around the players' holidays.
“All that matters is that they come back in good condition and they aren't overweight,” said Lennie. “In the old days players would maybe come back half a stone overweight and it would take them nearly two weeks to get up to speed but these days its a rare thing in players and obviously the fitness work in the summer complements that.”
This summer has been a classically British one, with adverse weather causing havoc on the training pitches, though the team did manage to escape to Spain for a brief training camp and warmer temperatures. Lennie said the surface and the quality of the pitches is paramount and that's why they're constantly watered.
“If they're (surfaces) too hard you get muscle injuries,” said Lennie. “If you're ploughing through mud, it's the same thing. It's not a surface they [the players] are used too. It's dangerous. We're paranoid about injuries. So far we haven't got any so we want to keep it that way.”
Lennie gave a positive message though for Palace fans ahead of next weeks opener, he said: “The players are in a very good shape physically and mentally.”
See Lennie's whole interview on Palace Player now.