Paul Cox was delighted to see his Mansfield Town players looking ‘hungry and very fit’ on the first day of pre-season training on Monday.
The BSBP champions, along with six new faces, reported back for a week of hard running ahead of a week-long training camp and first friendly out in Malta next week and boss Cox said: “We had an excellent first day.
“The lads had already been in for an ‘MOT’ and I am over the moon with their fitness levels.
“The biggest thing is we have a good nucleus from last year so I know we have a winning mindset.
“You always look to see if there is any sign of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ after winning a championship and anyone not wanting to put the work ethic in. But I can’t speak highly enough of this group.
“They have done some hard running – the footballs won’t be out until we get to Malta and it is going to be hard. It is not a punishment – it’s just setting the bar. We have got to work harder than last year if we want to be successful.
“It’s no secret I work on a lot of mentality and I have thrown some things at them and the lads have come right back at me. That’s all I can ask of them.
“We did two sessions and ate together – it was a long day. I didn’t expect the camaraderie they are showing until the middle of next week really.”
The Stags fly out to Malta next Tuesday with two training sessions a day leading up to the friendly with Naxxar Lions a week on Saturday.
This Saturday Stags will take part in a charity army assault course race at Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre.
Cox said: “This weekend will be about fun and bonding, but also about team work and spirit. There will be a trophy and everyone divided into teams so it will be competitive. But I will buy them all a pint at the end of the day.
“It’s not just running. They will be up to their necks in mud and swimming in cold water – it’s all about testing and pushing boundaries. It’s about seeing how they cope with a bit of stress and how they look after their team mates.
“I believe there are a number of celebrities taking part, too, and it would be nice to see a few fans there.”
One interesting face among the players on Monday was former Stags winger Nathan Arnold, who left neighbours Alfreton Town this summer.
Cox said: “I have kept in touch with Nathan. He had a great season last year with Alfreton and now wants us to have a look at him and keep up his fitness levels.
“He did himself no harm whatsoever on Monday. He worked extremely hard and showed great fitness levels.”