THE Barrow AFC squad are already reaping the rewards of becoming a full-time outfit, says assistant manager Alex Meechan.

The Bluebirds train from Monday to Friday at their new permanent base at Lancaster University and have undergone an intensive three-day camp in the Lakes as part of their preparations for the fast-approaching National League season. 

After losing their opening friendly 2-1 against Furness Select at Rakesmoor Lane a fortnight ago, just a few days after pre-season began, the AFC players are looking progressively sharper and stronger.

Barrow have hit five goals against both Kendal and Lancaster to register 5-3 and 5-1 victories and are aiming for another success today at Harrogate.

 “Obviously we went into the game at Holker after just two or three days together, but since then we have had some double sessions and the rust is off now and they look fit and strong,” said Meechan. 

“It was good to get into winning ways against Kendal, but I think first and foremost it’s paramount we get them to the levels of fitness they need to be at and I think we’ve seen a big leap forward in that.

 “The players have been doing double sessions, they’ve been doing strength and conditioning sessions and swimming pool sessions – you name it, they’ve done it.”

 He added: “The three-day camp last week took them out of their comfort zone a bit and really tested them mentally as well as physically. I just think compared to what we are used to at Barrow and other part-time clubs, going full-time has definitely made a difference.

 “You can just see it in training, with the appetite of the boys. Lads don’t want to go home even though they’ve worked really hard all day. 

“We did a little bit of shooting the other day and some of them wanted to still be out at 4.30pm doing shooting practice and you’re thinking – ‘no let’s go home lads you’ve got a whole nine months ahead of you’. What that tells you is that the desire and appetite of the lads we’ve brought in. They all want to do well.” 

Barrow begin their league season with a home game against Dover on Saturday, August 8, before facing Grimsby, Forest Green, Guiseley, Cheltenham, Southport and FC Halifax in a hectic first three weeks.

 “The boys are looking hungry and as management team we are just really excited,” added Meechan. “By the first two weeks of the season we will have played five games, so that’s something really for us to get our teeth into.”