DAVID HOCKADAY insists there will be a clean slate for every Leeds United player this pre-season – with the door open for all of his squad to impress.
United players returned from their breaks to start training at Thorp Arch today and will be assessed before heading out to Italy for a two-week training camp next week.
The players will undergo fitness training, speed agility and technical work ahead of jetting out to the continent where United will be based in Santa Cristina in the Val Gardena region of northern Italy.
Hockaday has warned his players that they can expect plenty of hard work in the coming days and weeks, having already spent long hours co-ordinating the pre-season training itinerary after being appointed as head coach a week ago.
The former Watford first-team coach and Forest Green manager says he has no preconceptions regarding his new charges and will hand them all a fair crack at proving themselves ahead of the big Championship kick-off at Millwall on August 9.
On what players can expect now and over the course of pre-season, Hockaday said: “The idea is to first check their fitness levels and to get them match fit and get all the work in them now so it will last them the entire season.
“It’s just going to be hard work, it’s as simple as that. They are going to come in and work hard.
“One or two have been in already. Some players I know more than others, but I have watched plenty of games and it’s clean sheet time for them all.
“What has been done is done and what is gone is gone. The king is dead, long live the king and now the players have a new head coach to work for and impress because now the fight is on to get the jersey.
“The hard bit is not getting the jersey, but keeping it.”
Hockaday made great play in his unveiling of his desire for Leeds to be the hardest working side in the league and sees that as something which is achievable.
Just as he has thrown himself into the task in hand since arriving in Leeds, so he is expecting the players to follow suit with a similar work ethic, which he is confident will yield the rewards when the serious stuff begins at the New Den in just under six weeks’ time.
Hockaday said: “It’s been long days, but it is what it is. There’s no bleating and we get on with it. It’s long days, but that’s how it should be.
“There’s a lot of work to do and catching up and we will catch up and we will get it all done.
“We will be ready for August 9.It’s a case of getting the message out that the club is about hunger, working hard and working harder than anyone else.
“The culture here will be one of hard work.
“We will be honest and have humility, but work hard with hunger with a capital H.”
Alongside fine-tuning pre-season work, Hockaday is also working hard on getting some incoming transfer business over the line, with Leeds yet to make a summer signing so far in the close season, despite being linked with a number of players – many being Italian.