Striker Cole Stockton admits Hearts’ squad lacked fitness under former head coach Ian Cathro.
The club sacked Cathro before the start of the season and caretaker Jon Daly has since suggested the squad he inherited was not up to scratch in terms of their fitness.
Stockton, who arrived at the club this summer after leaving Tranmere, agreed with Daly, suggesting they had been well off the pace before Cathro’s departure.
“The pre-season just gone was a lot different to what I’m used to,” he said. “Back in the day you wouldn’t see a ball for a week, you’d be running and running but I know the game is changing every season with sport science.
“But no, I wouldn’t say I was as fit.
“But now the training sessions are a lot more intense. Shorter distance, but you’re working for longer and harder so it will only benefit us in the last 10 minutes of games.”
The 23-year-old is not the first player to come forward in support of Daly for the permanent role as head coach at Tynecastle, with Don Cowie and John Souttar also pushing for his appointment.
The club have said an announcement will be made next week to reveal the successor to Cathro, and Stockton backed the current coaching set-up to continue.
He said: “Yeah, he (Daly) definitely has all the lads’ respect.
“He’s just fresh out of playing so he has that side to him and knows what it’s like to be one of the lads, but then he has the respect of the lads too so it’s a good combination to have.
“The lads are really pleased with what Jon’s done and how he’s working with us.
“(Liam Fox) Foxy and Austin (MacPhee) as well. All the staff here are on the same wavelength and we know what we want to achieve, so I think we’re heading in the right direction on that one.
“There will always be questions asked, but look how happy the lads are.
“The lads are coming into training and everyone has a smile on the face and we’re taking that into the games.”