Despite pre-season training officially beginning on Monday, Eagles winger Jerome Thomas has been hard at work for the past few weeks to get himself up to speed for the gruelling sessions ahead.
Thomas endured an injury-plagued first season in SE25 last season, making just nine appearances for Palace during their successful relegation fight after ankle and calf problems disrupted his runs in the first-team.
However he has been undertaking extra fitness sessions at the Beckenham training ground during the summer to help put those woes behind him and has his sights set regaining his starting spot during 2014/15.
“It's more of a pre pre-season for me at the moment, I've been coming in for the past three weeks and doing double sessions to make sure I'm ready for pre-season,” he said.
“Usually I rest during the off-season as I've just played a full season of games but that wasn't the case last year as I was very unlucky with injuries, and when I was back fit the team were playing so well so the manager stayed loyal with them which I fully understand.
“It's a new season now and we've got a clean slate. I've been coming in and working hard with the fitness coach throughout the summer and I want to hit the ground running.”
The majority of players dread the first week back after a couple of months off, but Thomas is among a number of Palace players who have been popping into the training ground to work with fitness coach Scott Guyett to help prepare themselves for the year ahead.
However the 31-year-old is looking forward to getting stuck into the sessions next week before heading to Austria to continue to increase their fitness levels, and believes experience plays a part at this time of the year.
“This will probably be my 15th or 16th pre-season now so I'm used to it, it comes with the territory! It's more about hard work and pushing yourself so it's a mental thing. When you're younger you worry about it but as you get older you know how important it is, and with a manager like Tony Pulis there will be a lot of emphasis on hard work.
“I'm looking forward to it, especially the trip to Austria and the games in America because it's more enjoyable when the friendlies come in rather than the first week of running with no ball work.”
Just like all football fans, Thomas was excited to see the Eagles' fixture list when it was released a couple of weeks ago, and an opening day to trip to Arsenal is a fixture that brings extra significance and motivation for the former Gunners man.
“It's an interesting fixture and gave me added inspiration to come in and do some extra work knowing that's the first game. Everyone is going to be fighting for a starting place knowing that's the opening game and I'm no different.
“I appreciate what everyone did last season but I'm here to work hard and fight to get into the team and help them push upwards. Next season we need to build – it won't just be about fighting relegation especially with a manager of Tony's quality.”
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