DERBY County striker Chris Martin says the Rams’ fitness levels were a key factor in the team’s success last season – and will be crucial again in the new campaign.
The Rams finished third in the Championship last term but were denied promotion to the Premier League when they lost the play-off final to Queens Park Rangers at Wembley.
Derby’s players are currently building their fitness levels back up ahead of the start of the 2014-15 season as they look to go one step further than last time – and yesterday announced the appointment of Brazilian Alessandro Schoenmaker as head of sports science at the club.
Scottish international Martin, who scored 25 goals in 2013-14, said: “We will be working very hard to make sure we are in the right frame of mind and also in the right physical condition for the season ahead.
“Part of our success last season was how fit we were as a team.
“If you look at the stats, I don’t think many teams, if any, ran further and worked harder than what we did as a team.
“That was part of our make-up and ethic, and we need to carry that into the new season.
“Promoted teams have one thing in common – they all work very hard.”
New recruit Schoenmaker will work alongside strength and conditioning coach Steve Haines, overseeing the fitness of the squad.
He has previously worked under head coach Steve McClaren at FC Twente in Holland, Wolfsburg in Germany and Nottingham Forest.
“We’re very pleased to have Alessandro on board with us,” said McClaren.
“I’ve worked with him in the past and he is very good at what he does.
“The sports science side of the game is hugely important and Alessandro will be working a lot on individual programmes for players, alongside Steve Haines, with whom he already has a good working relationship.”
Schoenmaker said: “I want to come here and help develop the department by passing on my experience and background.
“Hopefully, we can follow up on what was achieved last season.”
Martin, meanwhile, is confident the Rams have the management team and players to challenge for promotion again this season.
“We cannot sit back and rest and say ‘we had a really good season last season’. That has gone, that’s forgotten about now,” said the former Norwich City target man.
“Obviously, it was a massive disappointment but we have assessed it, said what needed to be said, and now we prepare for the season coming up.
“We don’t want to look back too much. We want to take things from last season with us, but not dwell on it too much. We want to move forward.
“It is about delivering again and I think we have got the right group management-wise and the playing staff to be able to do that.”
Derby have turned down a Sheffield United bid for defender Kieron Freeman.