Two surprise Bristol City players lead the squad for fitness and hope to be rewarded by Nigel Pearson

West Country outfit tuning up for the new season that starts in less than two weeks - and two young players have stood out.

Pre-season is all about getting ready for the new campaign, and so naturally there is a fitness element to the proceedings.

Bristol City travelled out to Austria to Bad Radkersburg where Nigel Pearson had previously taken Leicester City on pre-season camps and was where the Foxes attended in 2015 before winning the Premier League.

Despite the heat, it was the perfect place to carry out team bonding and build the stamina and mental fortitude needed to battle across the next 12 months.

Do the fittest sides always prevail? Not always, but certainly the more athletic teams tend to feature high up the table, as Marcelo Bielsa and Antonio Conte can attest.

Bristol City are hoping that peak physical condition will come during the season and that a base fitness will serve them well, and to at least to help when it comes to keeping the ball out of the back of the net.

So it was refreshing to hear on Robins TV in midweek that two young players have excelled physically so far.

Academy coach Neil Swift was on hand to discuss the game against Portsmouth and he revealed that young forwards Sam Bell and Tommy Conway had set the pace in the club’s SDS tests that all the players have been put through (Single Double Single High Intensity Interval Test).

The ‘Yo Yo test’ successor, and very similar, measures high intensity sprints and is a vital tool in football for measuring physical fitness.

Bell and Conway have given themselves every chance of catching their manager’s eye by being in top form and standing out on the training pitch in this aspect. Both players made a good impact from the bench on Tuesday too, if unable to score against Portsmouth.

Defender George Tanner backed up Swift’s comments, when we asked him about pre-season following the 0-0 against Pompey.

“The young lads have really done well [in pre-season training and fitness tests]. People like Sam Bell and Tommy Conway,” said Tanner.

“And Joe Williams. They’ve shown real fitness. But all the lads are at a real good level with their fitness. I’ve been impressed by how everyone’s fitness levels so far.

“We’ll continue to push each other,” the 22-year-old full-back added.

Pearson pays a lot of attention to the physical aspect of the game and wants 100 per cent in training. And 20-year-old Bell and 19-year-old Conway are giving that and more, helping to push up standards across the board and keeping senior players on their toes.

Meanwhile Tanner gave some further insight into his own fitness and the time away in Austria.

“We had a really good week in Austria, in the heat, and that’s really helped me. The lads in the gym are always trying to improve our power and athleticism,” he explains when asked if he has put on weight in a good way.

“I can’t really say I’ve personally worked on it [extra muscle bulk] but I have been in the gym a lot, trying to get ready for the start of the season. But I’m feeling good.

“For me, I just want to improve on last year. I had a good little spell at the start of last season but the injury really impacted me.

“So I think the main thing for me is trying to be as fit as possible and try and be available for every single game, because the Championship is such a long, hard season, I just want to give myself the best chance.”