Steve Haines says Derby County’s players are in good shape after adhering to their off-season fitness schedules.

Each member of the Rams’ squad was provided with an off-season training programme back in May by the club’s medical staff, with one eye already on pre-season training at the end of June.

After two weeks of complete rest, each member of Gary Rowett’s squad had to complete their individualised training sessions three times a week.

As pre-season closed in, the intensity of the sessions increased, to ensure each player had the best possible opportunity to return to work ready to hit the ground running.

The squad were handed technology to download and upload their workload, allowing the staff back at the Training Centre to monitor their progress.

Therefore, there was no hiding place and, pleasingly, the results have been impressive.

Fitness testing took place last Wednesday at the University of Derby, ahead of the first day of pre-season training a day later, and no player was below the results they recorded before last season concluded.

With that outcome, Haines, Derby’s Strength & Conditioning Coach, feels there’s a prime opportunity in the coming weeks to push on and take the squad’s fitness even further.

He told RamsTV at Derby’s training camp in Tenerife: “We had the players tested at the University of Derby during the final week of last season and got all of the data that we needed.

“From that point, each player had an individualised programme for the seven weeks that they were off.

“They had two weeks of rest and recovery at the end of the season and then, after that, the volume of intensity increased so they were ready to hit the ground running for the start of pre-season.

“The work that we gave them was probably more than they’ve had in previous years. They had to do three sessions a week based on the lactate profiles we had for each player.

“They had some base runs to complete which were more endurance based and also higher threshold running, which was tougher.

“Pleasingly, when we went back to the University last week, everyone was, at a minimum, where they were at the end of last season. On that basis, we’re really pleased with the shape that they’re in.

“As the players have said, there’s no hiding place for them and we were able to monitor when and where they did their runs. They were all compliant as if they weren’t they would have had to come back early!”

He added: “There’s a lot of scope now over the next few weeks to kick on, push forward and increase their fitness levels.

“We feel that we’re ahead of the game for doing that work in the off-season, so we can do the football-specific type of running that we would tend to do in weeks three and four of pre-season.

“It’s also helped in terms of the consistency of what training we’re going to be having in pre-season, work back from there and make sure they’re ready.”

Haines feels Derby can benefit from their time in Tenerife for several reasons.

From his perspective, spending a full week with the players allows more time than ever to work with the squad.

“Being in Tenerife gives us the chance to work the players hard in the morning and kind of have total control of them for the entire day,” he said.

“Back in Derby, if we were doing double sessions, you feel like you have to rush the second session sometimes for players logistically going home or hanging around.

“Here though, we can go through their rest and recovery before the next session.

“These trips are always beneficial for a number of reasons. We have great facilities here and there’s also the social side too, we have a few new faces and the manager has spoken before about having a tighter group. I think we’re seeing signs of that.”