Experienced midfielder Grant McCann believes there is a freshness to life at London Road.
Peterborough United midfielder Grant McCann and his team-mates returned to pre-season training this week and the Northern Ireland international believes the squad have returned in good shape.
McCann, who will continue to combine his playing and coaching duties within the club's Academy this season, admitted that work has to be undertaken during the summer to ensure the first day back is not a horrible one.
'The break is nice, but you have to look after yourselves during the summer. Gone are the days when you could just turn up to pre-season a stone overweight and try and get fit in the first few weeks. Everyone has come back in good shape and we are looking forward, if that is the right phrase, to the rest of the pre-season training.
'It is great to have Gabi Zakuani back, he is a great lad and he has already settled back into the dressing room in his same position. It is a good bit of business by the gaffer to bring him back to the club. I think we missed him a bit last season and he can help the younger lads.
'It will certainly be a bit different this year without Kevin Russell. It will be good to be working with Gavin Strachan though. We worked with him a few times last season and he is a good coach. He will bring a lot to the table. Kevin worked a lot with the strikers last season and you see what Britt Assombalonga achieved.
'It is going to be a big year for me. I want to do a bit more coaching this year. My main focus is still to get us out of the league, but I want to help the younger lads. I have passed by A Licence and I am feeling a bit more confident now with my coaching. It is a long process. I started three or four years ago and it takes its toll, but it is worth it. I am looking forward to doing the Pro Licence next summer. I just missed out this year,' McCann said.
McCann is well placed to give his opinion on how to improve the state of the English game following the national side's poor showing at this year's World Cup.
'Personally, for me, they need to make the kids games competitive. Nothing is competitive at the younger age groups and they don’t care if they win or lose.
'I have seen kids’ teams at under seven and eight level working on set-pieces which is ludicrous. They need to be doing drills with the ball in terms of keeping possession. Parents are an issue, every parent thinks their son is the best player on the planet, but it sometimes doesn’t help on the sidelines. It has certainly changed at the older age groups, which I coach at, the parents are quiet on the sidelines, which is what you want,' McCann said.