Chesterfield manager Dean Saunders has completed his new-look backroom team with the appointment of Mal Purchase as strength and conditioning coach, who has brought the latest technology with him to the Proact Stadium.
Purchase replaces popular figure Shane Nicholson who spent eight years in the role and Saunders has stressed that fitness levels will only improve under the 50-year-old former SAS serviceman.
As with assistant manager Brian Carey, the working relationship between Saunders and Purchase traces back to Wrexham, before continuing at Doncaster and Wolves.
Purchase then moved on to India where he was fitness coach for first division side Bengaluru FC, from where Saunders has prized his services.
The Spireite manager said: ‘They [Benglauru FC] were the fittest team in their league and we will be the fittest team in League One, I guarantee.
‘Mal was in the SAS. There won’t be many injured next year. The players think they’re working hard now but they’re not. Those lads in the SAS are disciplined.’
Purchase returns to England with technology in strength and fitness coaching rivalling that of European giants Real Madrid, including GPS trackers, heart rate monitors and hydration tests which will give Saunders and his staff the capability to assess the players down to every individual footstep, allowing them to detect and treat any injuries or illnesses often before physical symptoms show.
The first task for Purchase will be to ensure that new-signing Sylvan Ebanks-Blake secures a full and injury-free pre season to give him every chance of rediscovering the form that saw him win the Championship’s golden boot in 2008 and 2009.
The pair worked together at Wolves and were quick to team up again, with Saunders confirming that the duo were working on the striker’s fitness two weeks ahead of the official start of pre season training.
The 29-year-old forward has scored one goal in two seasons blighted with injury and high level of competition for places at Ipswich and Preston respectively.
Another challenge for Purchase will be to help Drew Talbot fully recuperate from the succession of complicated injuries that saw him miss the majority of last season.
It is clear that the versatile 28-year-old features prominently in Sauders’ vision for the side, as there was to hesitation to offer Talbot a one-year deal when it looked as though he would be moving on at the end of last season.
Meanwhile fellow defender Ian Evatt has been quick to praise the work of Purchase, on the announcement of his one-year contract extension which will keep him at the Proact until the summer of 2017.
The 33-year-old said: ‘The manager’s come in and we’re using modern techniques. Mal Purchase had done a lot of work and research on Premier League football and how Premier League players train and he’s bringing that into our training.
‘If it’s good enough for the best then it’s good enough for us. Hopefully we’ll be fitter, stronger and more tactically aware than we have been in the past and that can only go well for us all.
Evatt has also expressed his delight with the start Saunders has made, adding: ‘I honestly believe with the ideas he’s got, the coaching staff he’s brought in and the modern methods we’ve got we’re going to be fitter than we ever were.
‘We’re going to be stronger than we ever were and we’re probably going to be tactically better than we ever were so there’s no reason why we can’t improve on what we’ve done so far.’
Spireite fans will have a first opportunity to see the new regime in action with friendlies away at Matlock and Buxton on Thursday (19:45) and Friday (19:45) respectively.