Webster: 'Rovers will be fired up'
Being back for pre-season in December, while Dundalk's season is still ongoing, is a sign from Shamrock Rovers that they are taking things seriously for the 2017 season.
And Hoops man Dave Webster says the players are determined to reward their long-suffering fans by bringing success back to the club next season.
Even though the League of Ireland season will start a week earlier than usual in 2017, the fact that the Rovers squad have already been in, for gym work and assessment, shows their desire to avoid a repeat of recent trophy-less seasons.
"This is the earliest I have been back in my career and maybe that's a signal of intent from the coaching staff, to get us in early, get a head start on the competition," says Webster.
"All the lads are delighted to get back, it's good to get in early, especially with so many new faces in the squad, we can get to know each other early doors and kick on in pre-season in January.
"We've come in early just to get a head-start to get us ready for pre-season. Obviously the contracts start early so we're straight into work straight away so we'll be doing a good few gym sessions over December, focusing on mobility and strength.
"That's as a squad, that was one of the main things to get everyone in early. There's been a lot of changes, a lot of faces that have been there the last few years who are gone and a lot of new faces coming in so they put a big emphasis on getting people in early."
Webster has signed up for next season, for what will be his third year as a Hoop and he admits that recent seasons have been tough as the Hoops were unable to match the standards set by Dundalk.
"It's consistency," he says. "They (Dundalk) are a great team and a great squad, they are consistent, they do it week in week out. With other teams, especially Rovers the last few years, we could go out and have a good run of games but then have a bad run of games straight away. You don't see Dundalk doing that, they are consistent and we need to drive that into ourselves," he adds, admitting that it's not been easy for Rovers fans.
"The atmosphere in the stands reflects what's given on the pitch. We know the standard have dropped the last couple of years, but in fairness to the fans, they have come out in droves, they have been excellent and had a lot of patience with us, especially in the last couple of years. Hopefully this year we can give them something to cheer next season.