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Gillingham midfielder Jake Hessenthaler is feeling fitter already

Jake Hessenthaler denies Gills were unfit last season but is already feeling the benefits of Ady Pennock’s new regime.

Hessenthaler and his team-mates went through a brutal training camp in Northern Ireland before starting their pre-season friendlies with a 1-0 win at Faversham on Friday night.

Pennock feels fitness is crucial in League 1 and midfielder Hessenthaler, who played the second half at Salters Lane, agrees.

Jake Hessenthaler has been working hard Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jake Hessenthaler has been working hard Picture: Barry Goodwin

He said: “Pre-season’s not my favourite thing but I do agree you need a base.

“It’s the best thing when you can go into the season feeling fit. There’s nothing like it.

“We obviously went away and I have to say it was probably one of the toughest weeks I’ve had in pre-season but it was a good slog and everyone got through it.

“It brought everyone together to be honest. We mucked in together and worked hard and I think it was a good trip.

“I think the game’s changed a lot from back in the day.

“You need to be physical, you need to be athletic and if you can’t run then I don’t think you can get around the pitch.

“The fitness levels need to be high and if you’ve got that, the football will tell in the end.

“I did quite a lot of work in the off-season as well but I do feel fitter already.

Jake Hessenthaler with time on the ball Picture: Andy Jones
Jake Hessenthaler with time on the ball Picture: Andy Jones

“It’s good to feel this way and hopefully it can show in the performances of the boys.

“We’re always going to be high-intensity, that’s what the gaffer wants, but now hopefully we can take that into the games and with the ball get that quality going forward and our higher levels of fitness will come through.”

Gills’ fitness drew criticism last season but Hessenthaler said: “I don’t feel we were unfit last season. I don’t know, it was just one of those things last year.

“We played some games that we played quite well in and we just didn’t get a result but it’s hard to get out of a run.

“I don’t think we were unfit but I do feel we are fitter this year already and we can now kick on and use the football and attack well.”

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