BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer says his players have returned to pre-season training in ‘fantastic shape’.

After coming through two days of rigorous fitness examinations – including the yo-yo test, a variation on the bleep test – the Rovers squad were yesterday allowed out on to the pristine Brockhall pitches for the first time.

And their manager insists it is reward for the discipline and dedication they have shown over the close season.

Bowyer said: “Credit to the lads, they’ve come back in fantastic shape.

“They’ve done two days of testing and now we’re straight into the football because of the condition they’ve come back in.

“Players look after themselves far better than what they used to. They are all given programmes to follow throughout the close season and once they come back, we test them.

“Everything was up to date so we were able to get quickly into the football, which was great.

“There’s a really good feeling about the place and the comparison to 12 months ago is massive.”

Rovers head of sports medicine Dave Fevre, now in his 16th pre-season with the club, added: “The first few days are a bit of a blur as we get things sorted out.

“The first job is screening all the players. We do this so if a player gets injured during the campaign then we know what they were like at the start of pre-season.

“We also have new players coming in and it gives us an idea of what they are like.

“Almost everyone has come back injury-free so we are delighted about that.”