Seamus Conneely is pleased with Stanley’s important pre-season preparations but admits he cannot wait for them to finish.

The Reds’ captain is eager to return to match action, however the former Republic of Ireland U21 and U23 international is enjoying training and stressed the importance of improving the squads’ condition.

Ahead of the new season the Stanley players have been put through their paces to improve their fitness levels, and the skipper says the sessions help the squad to bond.

“It’s nice to be back amongst the lads,” said Conneely. “It’s always really difficult, but to get through pre-season brings the lads together.

“Pre-season is very important. The gaffer spoke about it on the very first morning and one of the things that really helped us last year was our fitness.

“Traditionally, any John Coleman and Jimmy Bell side has been very strong in the second half of the season because of the work that gets put in during pre-season.

“We need to get it right now and we’ll get the rewards later on.”

Stanley have three pre-season friendlies at the Wham Stadium in July, before embarking on their very first League One campaign at home against Gillingham on 4th August.

The Reds host Huddersfield Town on 14th July, Middlesbrough on 21st July and neighbours Blackburn Rovers on 28th July.

When asked what he was most looking forward to during pre-season, Conneely laughed: “When it ends! But seriously, we’ve got some good games coming up and I know that’s the thing that the gaffer, Jimmy and John Doolan look for.

“They look for good tests, so we’re playing a couple of Championship sides and obviously a Premier League side in Huddersfield.

“They’re all at home too so hopefully we get good crowds in and they’ll enjoy what they see.”

Conneely hopes that a successful pre-season will help Stanley prepare for life in League One and says he cannot wait for it to begin.

“I’m very excited,” said the skipper. “I’ve never played in League One before and I know not many of the lads have done.

“We’re looking forward to testing ourselves against a calibre of league opposition we’ve not come across before.”