Fleetwood Town’s Nathan Pond is preparing for yet another pre-season and the long-standing skipper says he will do what he does every year – bid to improve ersonally and as a team.
Pond, 32, has gone from strength to strength since his arrival in 2003, adapting to every step up in his record-breaking six promotions with the club.
Pond has played in seven divisions for Town, and despite missing out on a historic rise to the Championship after Town’s play-off semi-final defeat to Bradford City, the centre-half wants to build on last season’s fourth-placed finish as Town bid to come back refreshed and refocused to go for gold once again.
He said: “It has been a good 12 months, but like I do every season all you can do is try to improve. That is what I try to do year in, year out.
“Fourth place in League One is the club’s highest finishing position, so looking over the whole season it has been a very successful one for us.
“We went on that 18-game unbeaten run. There were a few last-minute winners and equalisers in that run and some good memories.”
Pond had a spell on the sidelines after a collision with team-mate Conor McLaughlin in the 3-1 win over Bristol Rovers at Highbury in January.
That knee injury kept the skipper out of action until April, when he returned off the bench for the 3-1 win at Oxford.
Another unfortunate collision saw Pond accidentally injure his own team-mate Cian Bolger at Oldham Athletic days later, with both centre-halves fighting to return to fitness in the closing stages of the campaign.
And Pond says his injury against the Pirates did not leave him enough time to hit his peak form for the play-offs.
He he started the first-leg 1-0 defeat at Valley Parade, with Bolger back to replace him in the middle of the back three for the goalless second leg at Highbury.
Pond reflected: “I was playing most weeks, then I got injured and was out about 12 weeks. At least I managed to get the final five or six games of the season in.
“If it wasn’t for that injury I would have hit my form a bit quicker. I didn’t have much time before the play-offs.”
Out-of-contract defender McLaughlin is expected to be named in the Northern Ireland squad for their friendly against New Zealand in Belfast on Friday and the World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan a week later
Another out-of-contract player, David Ball, has been linked with League One rivals Rotherham United, who were relegated from the Championship at the end of the season.