The players returned from their summer break on Monday and, once the usual opening day pleasantries had been exchanged, Dawson says it was straight down to work.
“The first few sessions have been hard,” said Dawson.
“As players, you know that pre-season is one of the hardest periods of the year. You have to come back focussed and ready to go again, and of course this year we have a group of lads trying to impress a new manager.
“We did a lot of ball work on the first morning, then we did a gym session and then we had what was one of the hardest running sessions I can remember on the first day of pre-season for a long time. It was the kind of session where, if you hadn’t kept yourself in shape over the summer break, it would have been impossible to complete. You could certainly feel it the following day, but you have to kick-on. There is no rest, you get ready to go again.
“Having the footballs out for sessions early on mixes things up well, though. You can run around the track as many times as you like, but when it comes to games it’s all about different movements so the ball sessions are working any rustiness out of us.”
No stranger to hard work, Dawson is very much looking forward to working under Slutsky and experiencing the Russian’s management methods.
“He gave me a call over the summer break and we had another chat in between Monday’s sessions and we all know what he expects,” added Dawson.
“We have to go out and deliver that for him now. Like every manager, he has high standards and we have to meet those.
“His door is certainly open and he’s very hands on. He’s open to discussion with everyone and that is great because it is important to have a manager that you feel you can go in and speak to. But, at the end of the day, we know he is the gaffer and our standards have to be high.”
Look out for the full video interview with Michael Dawson on Wednesday.