Date: 4th July 2007 at 9:25am
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Jimmy Calderwood has made the bold claim that he has now got the fittest players in the league but it`s not just his opinion, it`s scientific fact.

Much of Aberdeen`s success last season was down to the players being finely tuned to last the full ninety and beyond in some cases to keep motoring and snatching late points with last gasp goals when their opponents had tired.

Jimmy has called his boys in earlier than most, if not all, other SPL teams for pre-season training but in truth, they never really ended as every player had a daily exercise plan to complete and diet to follow.

Those who have not adhered to that strict plan will be found out quickly by the sports scientists who have been employed by the club to monitor the progress at four yearly intervals and guys in the past such as Leigh Hinds and Brian Prunty were soon binned once it was discovered they had strayed from the routine and couldn’t cope with the pre-season work load.

The good news is, the Aberdeen lads have are back training again and are already producing record breaking results.

The Stirling University boffins, who the Dons management staff have used since their Dunfermline days, are highly impressed with not just the results but the enthusiasm and attitude of all the players.

Naturally the boss is delighted as he aims to take the team further next season and he knows that improvement in an already very fit squad can go along way to pushing his team on to the next level.

Jimmy commented on the marked improvement which has astonished the Uni team when he said to the Daily Record, ‘The tests gauge how fit the players are and we will get the full results next week’.

We’ll repeat the exercise after the first game, again at the turn of the year and at the end of the season.

In one of the sprint tests Chris Clark and Richard Foster were both under four seconds, the first time these experts have ever had that.

Results were phenomenal right across the board. Craig Brewster is the oldest player but he was coming in a minute ahead of schedule in what should have been seven-minute runs.

I didn’t think the initial results would be so high but I wouldn’t expect much less from this dedicated group of players.

The players are seeing the results of the fitness work we have been doing for years.

They can see the changes in their own bodies. They come in thinking they have put on weight when it is actually all muscle.

The experts are delighted with the way they are developing physically.

You need your best players fit 90 per cent of the time to stand a chance of success. It’s great to come in and cruise through the hard work so early in pre-season.’

With high expectations of this squad for next season, some are already tipping the Dons to split the Old Firm, Jimmy thinks his boys are already well placed to emulate last seasons third place finish but it`s not all down to fitness levels, Jimmy thinks his team have won the psychological battle that has changed their mentality from hopefuls to expectant achievers.

He noted, ‘There’s a certain determination and a lot more belief. I saw the difference in their attitude as soon as we re-started training.

It’s not a question of arrogance – it’s confidence which is exciting for me.

They are winners now in my eyes and those of the fans after finishing third in the league and that’s what counts.

The squad is better than last term and you need that competition to keep people on their toes.

They are all going about scratching their heads wondering what the team is going to be. Where is Jackie McNamara going to play? Is he going to play?

I haven’t even started thinking about a starting lineup but the players have.

They are desperate to earn a place. That’s not a bad thing.’

Great news then coming out of Pittodrie as it`s great to hear of so much enthusiasm and positive feeling around the club at the moment.

Roll on August the 4th.