Steven Taylor has revealed that Newcastle United are enduring a tough pre-season as they prepare for the new Premier League campaign.
The Tyneside club finished 10th in the English top flight last season, despite only securing five league wins in 2014.
And, after losing seven of their last eight games to end the campaign on a low note, Taylor claimed the whips have been cracking at St James' Park - with manager Alan Pardew employing Dave Billows as the club's head of fitness.
"Pre-season has been really, really tough. Dave has come in from Everton and he has been absolutely thrashing the life out of us," Taylor said in quotes reported by The Northern Echo.
"It is a sickly feeling sometimes but the hard work is going to pay off for us. It has been really good and we have been enjoying the pain.
"Dave got us down to hard graft from the very first day. It's been tough, but great. It's what you need as a team and everyone has brought into it straight away.
"Fair play, there have been no complaints as everyone knows how vitally important fitness is in the Premier League these days.
"The lads have been working very hard, but it has been needed."
Centre-back Taylor missed more than two months of action early in the season due to a hamstring injury, and was restricted to just nine league starts.
The 28-year-old has been a magnet to the medical room in recent years and he admitted that he is still yet to reach full fitness since a seven-month lay-off with Achilles tendonitis in 2011-12.
"I've been getting my head down a few times on Tynemouth beach, doing some running," he added. "It is great there as I can put the headphones on and run up and down the soft sand. It works.
"I did it for two or three weeks before the start of pre-season training, taking advantage of the soft sand and the hundreds of steps to get you down on the beach.
"It's difficult but it is something I've really want to do after coming back from my Achilles injury and it seemed to do the trick.
"I want to get back to where I was fitness-wise and strength-wise that I was before my Achilles tendon injury. I have got the feeling that I am getting back to those sorts of levels.
"I want to hit the ground running and feel great every time I go out on the football pitch and so a little bit of extra training won't do me any harm at all. My legs have never felt better. Condition-wise I have never felt as good in pre-season."
|Manchester City v Napoli: The numbers behind Europe´s most lethal attacks|
|Jardim says French champions Monaco down on confidence|
|Spurs star Kane an obvious target for Real Madrid – Redknapp|
|Bosz and Dortmund eyeing much-needed victory as Schmelzer returns|
|Szczesny: I didn´t improve at Arsenal due to tactical gulf|
|Pochettino wants ´10 or 15 years´ at Tottenham|
|Shakespeare hails Mahrez response after ´kick up the backside´|
|Leicester City 1 West Brom 1: Mahrez cancels out Chadli magic|
|Hamsik not worried by Maradona record ahead of Man City clash|
|Man City better than Real Madrid? Sarri daunted by Napoli´s Etihad assignment|
|Ashley puts Newcastle United put up for sale|
|Lovren accuses ´nervous´ Lukaku of deliberate kick during Manchester United draw|
|One small step for Ox... Klopp praise for under-fire midfielder|
|Klopp denies Liverpool have lost confidence|
|Manchester ready for goal rush as Spurs visit fortress Bernabeu - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Tottenham one of Europe´s best, claims Riedle|
|Watch: Barcelona mark Messi debut with footage of La Masia magic|
|Ronaldo has to win Ballon d´Or, says Isco|
|Guardiola not falling for De Laurentiis´ Napoli script change|
|Guardiola´s ´genius´ inspiring Sterling at Manchester City|
|He is a complete forward – Zidane an admirer of Kane|
|Bale could miss both Tottenham games, concedes Zidane|
|Guardiola takes pressure off De Bruyne amid Messi comparisons|
|Napoli should rest stars against Manchester City - De Laurentiis|
|Switzerland, Italy, Croatia & Denmark seeded for World Cup play-offs|
|Kane takes Real Madrid interest ´very naturally´, says Pochettino|
|Chelsea struggling to fight on several fronts, Conte concedes|
|Jiangsu Suning confident Capello not Italy-bound|
|Pochettino: Madrid are not the Ronaldo team|
|Boateng considered Bayern exit|
|Nonsense! Critics won´t force Postecoglou out says Socceroos great Moore|
|MLS Review: Sounders, Timbers book play-off spots|
|Lukaku dismisses suggestions he is a flat-track bully|
|Milan will go along with Montella - Fassone backs boss after derby loss|
|Valencia win incredible nine-goal thriller at Betis|
|Spalletti hails Inter´s derby hero Icardi as complete striker|
|D´Ambrosio was clever - Milan boss Montella angry at Inter´s winning penalty|
|Mandanda breaks Marseille appearance record|
|Inter hero Icardi ´holding on tight´ to derby hat-trick ball|
|Pochettino watches you everywhere - Fonte|
|Attack proving best form of defence for Manchester City|
|If they think that, they will be stupid - Guardiola rules out City complacency pre-Napoli|
|Inter 3 AC Milan 2: Brilliant Icardi treble breaks Rossoneri hearts|
|Indonesian goalkeeper Choirul Huda dies after colliding with team-mate|
|Pogba steps up recovery from hamstring injury|
|I feel pity for the fans – Benitez|
|Jesus learning from Aguero and living for goals at Manchester City|
|De Vrij eyes Lazio extension despite Liverpool links|
|Southampton 2 Newcastle United 2: Gabbiadini brace denies Magpies|
|Treble season - Barcelona star Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo to have third child|
|Rooney makes Brighton his 36th Premier League victims|
|My whole football life is pressure - Koeman unconcerned by scrutiny|
|Inter striker Icardi targets 100 goals for club|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Everton 1: Late Rooney penalty fails to paper over visitors´ woeful show|
|Derby County 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Vydra´s rapid start sets Rams on their way|
|Spurs boss Pochettino harbours England ambitions|
|Milan´s Bonucci grateful to Inter for early grounding|
|De Bruyne one of the best in the world, says Silva|
|I won´t finish my career here – Mourinho looking beyond Manchester United|
|A-League Review: Bobo double sinks Wellington Phoenix, Taggart rescues Perth Glory point|
|Allardyce rules out taking ´very tempting´ Scotland job|
|Pochettino did not like me at first, reveals Alli|
|Koke pleased with Atletico display against Barcelona, Messi|
|Vazquez: Isco´s football is from the street|
|Ronaldo always delivers when Madrid need him to – Marcelo|
|Messi ´tired´ after recent heroics, says Valverde|
|Mertesacker laments Arsenal collapse|
|We achieved something remarkable - Inzaghi hails Lazio´s ´historic´ win at Juve|
|Simeone lauds Barcelona´s ´extraordinary´ Messi|