Craig Harrison has described the preparation for the Champions League as ‘unique’ as his The New Saints players returned to training this week.

With the draw on June 19, Harrison’s men returned to Park Hall after just three weeks off ahead of another Champions League campaign.

“Everyone knows the Champions League is coming up – but sometimes it feels like it’s almost still last season,” said Harrison.

“Now the lads go again. For the Champions League, it’s almost as if we’re on auto-pilot as everyone’s looking forward to it.

“Champions League preparation is unique. I’ve been here five years now and tweak it as a I go along. It’s completely different to any other time of the season.”

Harrison said the players have managed a solid 10 days’ rest, which is enough bodies to recover from the gruelling 2016/17 campaign.

He feels the rest needed was more mental than physical – and says the hardest work will come after their Champions League fate is sealed.

He added: “Our pre-season is always split into three stages.

“The first two weeks are about getting a base fitness while the second two weeks are about getting to more football fitness. The third two weeks are about tactics.

“We have a stepping stone of where we want to go and it all fits into place then. The lads wouldn’t have lost a lot of fitness. They’ll be in a reasonable condition so it’s more than anything they needed a bit more time off mentally.

“We’ve got good friendlies and new signings coming in, then on to Champions League – it’s exciting.

Harrison confirmed new signing Blaine Hudson has reported for duty, while James Jones has declined the club’s contract offer and has left TNS.

Carl Darlington has joned Wrexham as first-team coach.