Fitness coach Jan Kluitenberg believes Everton will reap the rewards of having almost every player back for the first week of pre-season, declaring “you couldn’t wish for a better situation.”
New signings Michael Keane and Davy Klaassen reported to Finch Farm for the first time on Tuesday, joining the raft of first-team stars who underwent a day of fitness testing at the Halewood training ground on Monday.
Only Mason Holgate, Jordan Pickford and Sandro Ramirez will return later due to their participation in last month’s European Under-21 Championship.
It’s a far cry from last summer when Ronald Koeman and his back-room team had to contend with players being unavailable for much of pre-season as a result of Euro 2016 and the Copa America.
And Kluitenberg, who followed Koeman from Southampton last June, says this time around is an ideal situation as he aims to get the squad ready for the Europa League third qualifying round first leg on 27 July.
“From Thursday we’ll have most of the players back, including some of our new players, and you couldn’t wish for a better situation than that as a fitness coach,” he told evertontv.
“The first week we’ll stay here at Finch Farm and we’ll start up in the way we like to start - it’s not very physical but we do a lot with the ball.
“After that we have a couple of days in Tanzania and we will play a game and have a training session out there, followed by a good week of work in Holland.
“The key is to get 90 minutes into the legs as early as possible and we have a couple of good friendlies because we also have to factor into pre-season the European qualifiers and then we have to be ready for the first home match of the Premier League season.”
After taking on Gor Mahia in East Africa next week, Everton will face Dutch side FC Twente and Belgium's KRC Genk as preparations for the Europa League campaign build.
La Liga outfit Sevilla will then visit Goodison Park on Sunday 6 August, and Kluitenberg is confident the quality of opposition will stand the Blues in good stead for their Premier League opener against Stoke City the following weekend.
“There are now about six weeks until the new Premier League season but we want to continue in Europe and that’s why we have good friendlies on a little bit of a higher level.
“They will be good physical sessions for us and good football sessions, too.
“I can’t wait for it all to begin. We have a lot of games this season and I think the expectations are a little bit more than last season. We have to do it all together and we’re excited to start against Stoke at home on 12 August.”