Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic is taking the summer to recharge the batteries ahead of a potentially grueling season at the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters are set for European action alongside a tough domestic schedule, and the Israeli stopper knows it could be a tough season for all concerned at the club.
However, a tough pre-season in Austria, orchestrated by manager Tony Pulis, is sure to serve the club well.
It's nice to have a break, especially after a very long season," Begovic told the Stoke City website.
"It's good for all of us to take a little time away from football, recover and then make sure we come back in July fit and raring to go again.
"We are under no illusions as to how tough pre-season is going to be, especially out in Austria. I was here for it last year and it was incredibly tough, but that is what you want. It certainly helped us over the season, especially in the second half of the year because I don't think there were any teams who were fitter than us."
With competition for places fierce at the club, Begovic is under no illusions that the number one spot is guaranteed to be his at Stoke.
The former Portsmouth goalkeeper faces competition from Thomas Sorenson for the starting position, and believes the competition beginning in pre-season can help bring the best out of him.
"Obviously, I want to be playing games, but so do Thomas and Carlo [Nash], who are also two fantastic goalkeepers," Begovic continued.
"I feel like I did well in what was my first real full season and hopefully I can continue that. It's important that I continue to work hard during the summer to make sure I come back fit and show how much I want to retain the number one spot."
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