RALPH Hasenhuttl has sent his Saints squad away with a demanding summer fitness programme to ensure they return for next season in fantastic shape.

The Saints boss wants his players to go away and refresh their bodies and minds after a tough Premier League campaign, but he has no intention of spending the first few weeks of pre-season working on fitness levels.

Instead he expects the players to return to Staplewood at the beginning of July fully fit and prepared to work on the essentials for improvement.

Hasenhuttl said: “I think it (pre-season) is not that much different to a normal training session during the week because we are still working hard.

“The more important thing is that the schedule we gave them in the break they follow because that means they come back in the shape we can start immediately on the pitch.

“I don’t want to start at zero because they were laying on the couch at home for six weeks and eating whatever.

“Pre-season for me is something we want to work every part of our game and that means you have to have a level when you come back and that’s why it’s not having seven weeks of rest and do nothing.”

Hasenhuttl says his demands for the players during their break are physical rather than mental and that he won’t be setting them any further homework.

“For video clips we have enough time with them and the last six months there were enough video sessions and we have to prepare ourselves also what we want to teach them, new information and develop our game,” he insisted.

“It’s important we use this time during the break to be clear with our philosophy and how we want to go because we want to do better.

“For them it is the basic physical fundament that is the right one. Exercises like stabilising exercises and this stuff.”

One of the most important elements of the football holiday season for the majority of top players is to switch off after a long nine months of action.

The Saints squad have certainly had a steep learning curve under Hasenhuttl who has demanded a new style of play midway through the campaign and also tried to teach them a number of different formations to play.

That is work he feels is to be continued.

“They know that we are looking on every part of our game and every player and if you are not part of it you get told,” he said.

“Everybody knows he has to work with his mind and brain and then we are committed and working as a team and that is the only chance to be successful and for next season.

“You can be sure this kind of work will be the same and also next year it has to be possible to change systems in a game two or three times without any problems because that’s modern football and it’s normal.”