Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou is excited for the chance to work with his squad in pre-season free from pressures of European qualifiers or the chaotic situation that welcomed his arrival last year.
The Australian welcomed most of his league winning side back from their holidays on Monday and now the preparations start to defend their title and make an impact in the Champions League.
The 56-year-old admits last season’s preparations were all about a “hectic” rebuild while also trying to get a patchworked side ready for early European qualifiers.
But this year they will be straight into the Champions League group stage and will be taking part in the continent’s flagship competition for the first time since 2017 and that has been hailed as a “huge advantage” in their preparations for the season ahead.
And with a much more settled team and healthier looking squad than this time last year Postecoglou says the time to work with the squad will be “invaluable”.
Speaking to Celtic TV he said: “We’ve got a clean pre-season without any competitive games – that’s a great advantage for us.
“I think for me, apart from strengthening the squad, is just being able to work with the group of players we had last year this pre-season is going to be invaluable as well, because most of them either missed pre-season or we threw them in halfway during the season.
“Even working with the existing squad over the next three or four weeks will be invaluable.”
He added: “We know once the season starts, it’s going to be full throttle, so we need to do as much work with them now. I’m sure the players will appreciate that as well.
“I know the coaches are looking forward to it as are the sports science staff and everyone involved to being able to work with the players around their game-model and on how we can improve this year, and improve them individually.
“We want to make sure that we take advantage of this, otherwise it’s a missed opportunity.”
Celtic’s pre-season gets underway in against Austrian regional league side SC Victoria next Wednesday before they play Rapid Vienna three days later.
Their next game will be against Banik Ostrava in Czech Republic on Wednesday, July 13, before they return to Glasgow to play Blackburn Rovers at Celtic Park.
A game in Warsaw to celebrate the career of legendary goalkeeper Artur Boruc against his current club Legia will then take place on Wednesday, July 20.
Their last pre-season friendly against Norwich at Celtic Park comes a week before their league opener against Aberdeen at the same venue.