STEVEN GERRARD has revealed his players are ‘ahead’ of where he expected them to be in terms of their fitness.
The Light Blues have been hard at work in Spain over the last 10-days, and travel back to Scotland today to continue their pre-season preparations.
The manager also has his players where he wants them to be in terms of a technical viewpoint too, and firmly believes they are on-track to be prepared for when the action gets underway for real.
Speaking to RangersTV exclusively in Spain, Gerrard said: “I think I am slightly ahead, certainly from a fitness point of view. The reason we came back on the date we did come back was to give them time to rest from the season they have just had.
“They have been battered from pillar to post and been criticised really heavily – it was a tough season mentally with the players, so we wanted to give them extra time off with their families.
“But to do that, we had to make sure that this 10 days was really tough and we pushed them. That is why we tried to get two weeks training into them in the 10 days.
“They have actually over-delivered in terms of the numbers they have given us back physically, so from a fitness point of view I am delighted, and from a technical and tactical point of view, I think we are where I wanted us to be.
“The idea was to take time in terms of getting the messages and the philosophy over to the players. A lot of them are bright, and a lot of them have taken it on-board quicker than others.
“But I suppose I am satisfied in terms of the football side of it, but I am very confident we will be ready when we need to be.”
Continuing on his players’ fitness, he said: ““The proof is there and the numbers are there in terms of where the heartrate is at now compared to where it was on day one.
“They are obviously in a better place and we are also covering further distances now than we were on day one. So, slowly and surely we are getting there in terms of fitness, and it is important the players really look after themselves over the next two or three weeks.
“We have given them targets of where we want them to be in terms of body weights, fats and fitness levels.
“They are all aware of them and they have targets to make sure they are ready for the beginning of the season.”
Gerrard also took time to praise the club’s training base at La Cala, although he knows the true benefits of their work there will only become clear in the coming weeks.
When asked how he rated their facilities, he said: “Excellent. The hotel is very nice as are the surroundings and it is a good place to come and work.
“If you are being over-critical, the heat at times has been a bit tough, but in terms of the facilities and the way we have been looked-after, I think it has been first-class and certainly something we would consider doing again in the future.
“That will depend on the results in the short-term. If we get off to a fine start, you will probably look back on this and go ‘that’s because we put the base in place in La Cala.’
“Time will tell whether this has been a success or if we have to look at something different in the future.”