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Gary Rowett says the fitness of Derby County’s players is being monitored during the close season.

The Rams’ players signed off for their summer breaks last week following the conclusion of the 2016/17 season.

Derby’s first-team squad will report back for pre-season training ahead of the 2017/18 campaign towards the end of June but, in the meantime, they have to adhere to fitness programmes provided by the Rams’ medical team.

Each player has been provided with a heart rate monitor watch which they must wear during their sessions to download their workload, which is then picked up by Derby’s backroom team.

Although Rowett knows his players will naturally keep themselves ticking over ahead of pre-season, he says it is in the Rams’ best interests to make sure they are following their fitness schedules.

Anyone not compliant can expect an early return for pre-season training, but that’s not something the 43-year-old is expecting.

“The players, first of all, will have about two weeks off,” Rowett explained to RamsTV.

“After that, they are monitored in terms of what work they are doing.

“It’s nothing ridiculous, but just to make sure they’re ticking over so we don’t have players coming back that are injury risks and not conditioned well enough to start pre-season.

“That is the type of professionalism we are looking for, but they will have plenty of time to have a break as well.

“It would be ridiculous to let us have a player and give him seven weeks off to do what he likes, especially from an elite performance and athletic point of view.

“The players all have a heart rate monitor watch and have to do sessions we have planned out for them. We know they are responsible anyway and the work does get ramped up as the weeks go on.”

He added: “They have to download the sessions they have done and they have to be compliant. If they aren’t they come back early for pre-season. We don’t expect them to come back as fit as they left, we understand that, but if they do the work they get the full time off.

“That is our way of saying we need to be fit and start next season ahead of the game. If we want to achieve what we want to, then asked three hours of the players’ time a week is not a big demand.”

The players will report back for pre-season training on Wednesday 28th June at the Derby County Training Centre to begin preparations for the 2017/18 campaign.

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