Leighton Baines is eager to get a head start on his Everton team-mates and opponents alike, in terms of fitness, ahead of the 2016/17 season.
The 30-year-old full back has been putting in the hard yards at the Blues’ training ground, Finch Farm, over the past few weeks as he looks to be in tip top shape before next season kicks off.
Baines endured a difficult 2015/16 campaign with a troublesome ankle injury, but returned in the latter stages of last term to regain his starting berth in then-manager Roberto Martinez’s side.
And with incoming manager Ronald Koeman expecting his charges to be in the best possible condition ahead of pre-season, Baines is all too aware that the hard grafting now will pay dividends over the course of next season.
He told evertontv: “I had a break with some time away with the family.
“I was doing bits whilst I was away and, being back now, I’ve been in to Finch Farm because it is a more comfortable environment for training with having the gym to yourself and all the correct facilities, bearing in mind the specific things that we get in our programmes over the summer.
“I’m in the middle of that now and I’m trying to get some work done and into decent shape for when we all start back.
“It’s been really relaxing with time to switch off. I’ve spent time with the family in a change of environment. When you get the opportunity to do that, you enjoy it but then get to the point where you start wanting to come back.
“The most difficult thing for me during the summer is doing nothing. I start getting a bit anxious about losing fitness.
“The difficult thing is forcing myself to take 10 to 14 days of total rest. I’m always happy when I’m away enjoying family time but I’m training as well.”