CRAIG LEVEIN has warned his Hearts stars they’re in for a brutal pre-season.
But Arnaud Djoum is relishing the prospect after four frustrating months on the sidelines.
Jam Tarts star Djoum was ruled out for up to eight months after snapping his Achilles tendon in February.
Just four months later, however, the Cameroon internationalist believes he is close to resuming running.
So, while his Gorgie team-mates are dreading what promises to be a gruelling pre-season workout, miracle man Djoum is raring to go.
“I am recovering well, although this is a long-term injury,” he said.
“Initially, my recovery was to take eight to 10 months. But I think I will be back in two months.
“It depends on how quickly you recover, but I think that, by the end of June, I will be able to run again.
“After that, it will still take time to get back, although I am ahead of schedule.
“If I can get back for the running part of pre-season, then I will be happy.
“I have been told the manager’s pre-season is really hard. People who have worked with him before have said this.
“It is apparently very old school, but I want to be there. I can’t wait to be involved again.
“If the pre-season is hard, then it can only be good for the team because that fitness work you do in the summer is crucial.
“Last season, I didn’t do a pre-season, I came from playing in the Confederations Cup straight into the season.
“You definitely need that base of fitness in the summer to help you through the rest of the year.
“I have played under coaches in the past who give you a tough time in pre-season, so it’s nothing new to me.
“I just want to be back able to run again so I can be involved in some way.”
Djoum spent the week working towards his UEFA “B” coaching licence with the SFA at the Oriam training complex.
At 29, he has plenty left in the tank as a player.
But he revealed a chat with Jam Tarts team-mate, Don Cowie, convinced him to start pursuing his coaching ambitions now.
Djoum said: “I have enjoyed doing the coaching badges. It opens your eyes to a new way to see football.
“I think that can make you a better player.
“Don Cowie was the one who suggested it.
“He said it’s no good to just wait because if you have the time and can do it, then you may as well.
“If you do it early, then you are ahead of other people further down the line. So it’s a good idea to do it young.
“I don’t know if 29 is that young, but I felt it was the right time to do it and I have been enjoying it.”
Djoum has watched eight new signings arrive at Tynecastle already this summer.
And he believes Craig Levein is doing all the right things to ensure Hearts better last season’s disappointing sixth-place finish.
“We had a lot of loan players last season,” Djoum continued.
“So it was important for the manager to bring in players on permanent contracts,” he said.
“It was hard for the team last season. There were a lot of injuries and the coach changed early in the season.
“So the manager wants to get his own players in, and he wants to balance the age of the squad more.
“We have a lot of very young players and a few players in their thirties.
“So I think he wants more people in the 20-30 age bracket.
“He obviously has positions he wants to strengthen.
“We want to do better this time round and I think we will.”