STEVE NOLAN has revealed that the first-team will be working on tactical awareness as well as fitness during this year’s pre-season campaign.

The players return to training tomorrow night (Thursday) and will be put through their paces by assistant-boss Steve, while manager Clive Walker is away.

Clive, currently in the States coaching, returns for Dover’s home friendly against Margate on Tuesday, July 26. That leaves Steve to work with the players alone for three weeks, including two matches against Calais and Colchester.

Steve has been left with instructions from Clive and will be working hard to ensure the players are in tip-top condition for when the new season begins.

He said: “We expect the players to have been keeping themselves fit during the close season. They’re all pretty sensible lads and it’s not in their interests to return to training unfit.

“The main objective is to get them match-fit and tactically aware.

“We’ve got a formation in mind for the players we’ve got this coming season. We’re also looking at a couple of other options. We may want to change formation or tactics during a game or start a different game with a different formation – and that’s what we’re going to be working on.”

The players can expect a tough workout this week but Steve will be careful to make sure they do not burn out.

He said: “It’ll be hard work but it’ll be a slow build up. It won’t be all guns blazing and running the legs off the lads. We’ll gradually build them up.

“I went on a pre-season coaching course at Bisham Abbey a couple of months ago and the methods have changed a bit. Whereas you didn’t see a football for a few weeks earlier, now there are more game-related practices as well as getting the fitness levels up.”

There will be four training sessions before Whites face our French friends Calais on Saturday, July 16. Some players could even be fully fit for that game, while others will need longer to reach the required levels.

Steve added: “Some players are naturally fit. In a couple of weeks, some may be up to peak fitness; others it takes a bit longer. Some need more games under their belts. It takes a few games to get that match fitness back.

“You have to be fit in body and mind. That comes with training practices, phases of play and friendlies as well.”

Steve was appointed Clive’s No 2 this summer after he resigned as manager of Sittingbourne. He spent a number of years assisting former Leeds keeper Mark Beeney at the North Kent club before running the side himself.

But he is delighted to be linking up with Clive at Crabble in a bid to gain two promotions in two seasons – which is the club’s target.

He said: “I’ve known Clive many years. In non-league terms, to say Dover are a big club is a massive understatement. I ran the reserve side here earlier and always enjoyed coming back with Sittingbourne.

“Dover fans have high expectations and rightly so because the club should be at a higher level than where they are now. But, of course, we’ve not got a divine right to be playing at a higher level, because you’ve got to win leagues to do that.

“This is a massive club and we now have the set-up to do well again. We’ve got a good and sensible board in place and I believe Clive is the right person to take this club forward on the field.”

Whites have been drawn away at Lymington and New Milton in the FA Cup preliminary round and home to Dartford in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

Steve said: “Promotion is the minimum target this season – and, although a run in the cups would be great, our priority is the league.

“No doubt, I’ll be going to take a look a Lymington and New Milton and Dartford – so we can prepare well for those games. After all, a cup run would bring in a lot of extra revenue for the club. That’s one of the advantages of entering the cup at such an early stage. You earn money for each round you win.

“The squad is looking good and it’s nicely balanced. There are some good young players who can play at a higher level as well as a few experienced heads.”