DAVID van Zanten last night revealed how his Buddies are taking the pain out of pre-season . . . by swapping wisecracks with one another.
The Dubliner, 30, said the St Mirren stars are being pushed through the pre-season pain barrier with up to three training sessions a day, followed by some tough work in the gym.
But the hard work is being made easier by the light-hearted banter flying around the Saints’ dressing room.
Right wing-back van Zanten said: “Pre-season is always difficult and no player likes doing it.
“But we’ve managed to keep a smile on our faces throughout and that’s really helped.
“At the end of the day, there’s always a few jokers in the dressing room and when they get going it helps to take the sting out of what we’re doing.
“It’s good fun and you can’t beat a bit of a laugh, especially when you’re working hard, as we all are.”
The Buddies defender has already set his sights on retaining that right-back slot after making it his own last season, playing more than 40 games for Danny Lennon’s side.
But he’s equally determined to get Saints firing out of the starting blocks and help give them enough momentum to ensure a place in the top-six isn’t beyond them this time around.
He said: “Last season, I thought we did very well and we set the bar high – but we just didn’t quite get there.
“The aims and objectives in that respect won’t change, we’ll be looking for top-six this season.
“It’ll be hard work but that’s why we work so hard in pre-season, it can really set you up well for the whole campaign. It can set the tone for the season ahead.
“The manager has already spoken to the players about what he expects this season and we definitely feel we are capable of getting into the upper half of that SPL table.
“We’ve brought in some new players like Lewis Guy, Jon Robertson and Sam Parkin and already in training we can see what great additions they are going to be.
“Now it’s a case of getting the fitness levels right, getting match sharp and focusing on the first league game of the season.
“It’s obviously at home to Inverness Caley Thistle and we’ll be determined to get off to a good start by taking three points.”