NEALE Cooper is “proud” of the physical condition in which his Hartlepool United squad has reported back for pre-season.
The Scot admits he has been tired simply watching his players battle it out in their very own version of the “World’s Strongest Man” competition in recent days.
Without a football in sight, the Pools boys have been tossing tyres and pulling sleighs in a carefully-designed programme laid out by Durham University experts.
And Cooper told SportMail today: “I couldn’t believe how tired I was just watching them.
“It was like the World’s Strongest Man on Saturday.
“They were pushing these sleighs across the pitch and I’ve never seen boys in such pain.
“One group were running for 25 minutes and lifting and tossing a tyre which I couldn’t even move.
“Peter Hartley, Neil Austin, Andy Monkhouse, they are all strong boys and we had a few contenders for the Strongest Man crown I must admit.
“But I’d like to thank the Durham University coaches for what they’ve set out for them, it’s been fantastic.
“Even the rowing coach from the university has been impressed and I think he fancies a few of our lads joining his team.”
The Pools squad were all given fitness schedules to keep to during the close-season.
Cooper was impressed to see a number of his team working out at Maiden Castle over the summer, and he says their current condition is testament to that extra work.
“They have been hammered these past few days but the pleasing thing is they have done it,” he went on.
“I’m delighted that they have done what was asked of them over the summer and I’ve never seen a team so physically strong - I’m proud of that.
“They could go straight in and play football because they are that fit, but they have to do this work.
“By the time the weekend comes around and we’re ready for Holland then the balls would have been out and we’ll be gearing up for a couple of matches, which I think they’re all looking forward to.”