MICHAEL Doughty has stated Swindon Town’s pre-season fitness testing campaign has been one of the toughest he has endured in his professional career.

Tests at Southampton University combined with ball work at Beversbrook Sports Facility and boxing at Brunel ABC have granted manager Richie Wellens and assistant boss Noel Hunt a clear picture of who the leading physical players are ahead of next Tuesday’s opening pre-season fixture at Brimscombe and Thrupp.

Doughty, who last year won the Swindon Advertiser Player of the Year award, even revealed players that haven’t kept up to date with their summer fitness routine risk being injured before a ball has been kicked.

But the 26-year-old has viewed that as a positive, adding dressing room atmosphere and morale levels are already exceeding his early expectations.

He said: “If I did nothing over summer, I would either be crippled or injured.

“You’ve got to make sure your body is able to take the load. Richie (Wellens) has made it clear that he has got no time to waste.

“It’s a new season so there will obviously be a bit of excitement. But I have to say the boys have been incredibly focused.

“Fitness testing has gone incredibly well.”

Tests have also been conducted to measure players’ power, general fitness and body fat percentages.

In Doughty’s case, he has always opted to be as lean as possible - allowing him to complete multiple aerobic runs in the middle of the pitch when required in short spaces of time.

And while times move on, the midfielder accepts the modern-day footballer must learn to live under the radar regarding fitness stats, data analysis and diet.

“I’m into my nutrition, I don’t eat meat - and my partner is vegan,” said Doughty.

“I feel that helps my fitness and helps to keep my weight down. You have to be more conscious during the off-season because you aren’t doing as much.

“It’s part of the game now - if you don’t look after yourself you can’t be a professional footballer.

“It’s hard to compare times, but the standard of football now is arguably at its highest. The Championship is pretty much the old Premier League.

“Even at our level, players are stepping up and making a name for themselves. If you don’t look after yourself, you’re not maximising your potential - and that’s an easy thing to control these days.”