Sean McConville is expecting a tough pre-season – he admits it is necessary but horrible.

The players return on Thursday to pre-season training and McConville said getting to the peak of fitness was the reason for Stanley’s stunning second half of the season which led to the League Two title.

“I am dreading pre-season, it’s horrible,” said the 29-year-old. “It was a big part of what we did last season though because we were so fit.

“There are different ways of pre-season training. There is what may be judged as the old-fashioned running, which I prefer and we do here, and then the more technical, heart-rate monitor training.

“The pre-seasons at Accrington are the hardest I have done. The gaffer tries to make it fun but it’s not fun when you are being sick, feel you are nearly going to die and then you have to look at the hills, sand dunes and the track you have to run on. The management try to make light of it but I am certainly not smiling.

“It is essential though and probably a big reason why we do have such strong second half of the seasons which have tended to happen under John Coleman here, it’s in our history.”

Stanley have three home pre-season friendlies against Huddersfield, Middlesbrough and Blackburn organised before the season kicks off on 4th August.

“It is a release when you start playing the pre-season friendlies, as it’s vital for shape and the different aspects of the way we want to play,” said the winger.

“Then you look forward to the fixtures and we have nothing to fear from Gillingham on the opening day, I remember the crazy 7-4 game against them, then Bristol Rovers is winnable while Charlton is a fascinating game for our second home league game.

“I remember watching Everton lose to Charlton so in my eyes they are a Premier League team but we have nothing to fear.”