BURTON Albion boss Gary Rowett reckons the squad which will start the 2014/15 season is the best he has had in his time as manager.
The Brewers boss is also confident that the team he has assembled will be the most attacking yet since Albion came into the Football League.
"I'd say it's the best yet," said the manager, who has brought in proven – and talented – League One footballers this summer.
"I think we've got the youngest and most athletic squad we've had, with the capability of playing, if not the best football, the most attacking football we've been capable of playing since we've been here."
This summer Albion have signed keeper Jon McLaughlin, defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, midfield lynchpin John Mousinho, winger Lucas Akins and striker Stuart Beavon, as well as the promising Callum McFadzean and George Taft.
All have looked excellent at various points in pre-season, while Cansdell-Sherriff and McFadzean are known quantities from last season.
"Again, we've seen bits of that attacking football in pre-season," said Rowett, who has put the emphasis on the team rather than outstanding individuals like former Brewer Jacques Maghoma.
"Also, there won't be many teams – and I don't want to harp on about it because that was our strength last season – who go the whole of pre-season without conceding a goal in open play against eight of the teams we've played against.
"Five of them are top, top teams.
"That's something, and we've limited many of these teams to very few chances.
"That's been good and we've created our own, which is fantastic.
"I think we've got a lot of hope and optimism about the group we've got."
Rowett is also impressed with how the squad has responded to what has been demanded during pre-season.
He says they are a fit group and credits the new players with raising the bar.
"The biggest thing for me is it's probably the most honest group we've had," said the manager.
"We've not had to look at 'can he do what we want?' or 'does he want to do what we want?'
"I think that at the moment everyone has tried to do what we want over pre-season.
"That's been the most encouraging thing."