Shane Long believes he is feeling the benefits of enjoying a six-week break from football over the summer.
Though the Saints striker admitted there was still plenty of fitness work for him to do, as he recovered from an injury sustained at the tail end of the last campaign.
“It was hard for me at the start of the summer because I obviously broke a bone in my foot towards the end of last season,” started Long.
“So the first two or three weeks were about recovery and getting myself right, then after that all my focus was on building the fitness back up.
“I did a bit of work whilst I was on holiday in Portugal with the kids. But it’s also nice to get a break. I think it’s the first time in my whole career that I’ve had six weeks off from football without an international break.”
Long was amongst the first batch of players to report back to Staplewood Campus for the start of pre-season under Mauricio Pellegrino.
And the Irishman is keen to use the early stages of the campaign to impress the new boss.
“For me, last season was a bit disappointing,” he continued.
“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to and felt I didn’t get the chances that I deserved at times, so I want to hit the ground running this year.
“It’s the first pre-season in a long time that I’ve been here from the start, so I want to show the manager what I have got and leave an impression on him come the start of the season.”