Colchester United’s pre-season programme will be pivotal to their chances of success next season.

That is the view of U’s sports scientist David Carolan, who has been putting Paul Lambert’s squad through their paces.

Colchester began pre-season training last Thursday, ahead of a trip to Germany and a number of pre-season friendlies.

They begin with a trip to play Essex Senior League club Tiptree United on Saturday.

Colchester’s players have already embarked on individual training schedules this summer.

And Carolan is preparing to get the players in shape, ready for the big kick-off on August 8.

He told the Gazette: “You only get one shot at pre-season and it’s a really important time for us.

“Before we go out to Germany, we’ll be building on the physical foundations.

“It will be a good balance between running and ball work.

“The programme that has been set up for the players has been done because experience is vital.

“When the players return from their break, we will assess their individual strengths and weaknesses.

“We want to give them as good a basis as possible for the work they will compete.

“The players need a mental break.

“But we’ve had the opportunity to get some really important work in during May, while players from other clubs are lying on a beach.”

Colchester’s players have already been working hard on their fitness.

Boss Lambert put them on a demanding weights programme as soon as last season finished.

It was designed to beef them up for the coming Coca-Cola League One campaign.

“We had three and a half weeks of doing strength and power work at Hamiltons Gym,” said Carolan.

“We did some really good work in there.

“The players have been off for the last few weeks but hopefully it will be a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.”

Carolan also believes the U’s trip to Germany will be hugely beneficial.

He added: “The one thing that you can guarantee when you’re on tour is that you have a lot of control over the rest and recovery period.

“The players’ sleep will be uninterrupted and they will be going to bed early.

“But the work there will be a step up and the volume and intensity of it will be increased.

“It’s fantastic, because there will be no interruptions and no distractions and team bonding is important for the season ahead.”

l Colchester have been linked with a move for Dundee's veteran goalkeeper, Rab Douglas.

The U’s are in the market for a new shot-stopper, following the departure of Dean Gerken to Bristol City.

They are still keen on signing Carlisle United goalkeeper Ben Williams and have also been linked with Douglas. However, Dundee manager Jocky Scott has warned Colchester off, saying: “Rab signed a new two-year deal just before the end of last season so he is going nowhere.”