THE early birds walked cheerily, if a little blearily, through the gates at Lostock on Monday morning ready to start another week.

Different hours are kept these days at the training ground and it’s clear by the groggy expression on a few faces that the extra hour of daylight saving was put to good use at the weekend.

Keith Hill is, as ever, the enthusiastic presence, waiting to welcome his players and lift spirits, something which might well be needed after a wasted trip to Lincoln City which threatens to interrupt momentum gained from the win at Bristol.

There has been a lot of talk about change since Hill walked through the doors at Bolton, whether that be in personnel, style of play or in the general philosophy of a club keen to move on from the most testing times of its recent history.

And, gradually, it is starting to take shape. New working hours, different emphasis in training, a general upturn in performances on the pitch.

Hill believes he is getting somewhere. His progress has been checked by a lengthy injury list but there is still a mood among supporters that the very best of Wanderers is yet to come.

“The way we work, we are demanding of the players,” he said, asked whether the changes he has tried to implement on the training ground have worked thus far.

“But we are also understanding of their needs, they get the right amount of time off to recuperate and recharge. We want players to embrace the way we want them to think and play in and out of possession, which is different to how this club and how other clubs have done it in the past.

“They have been fatigued at times – but then I think you can learn a lot about yourself when you push to that limit, footballer or not. You have to be able to control your emotions.

“You have to push boundaries as a player and as a manager. We’re asking a lot of them.

“The demands of the game are changing. It’s evident that the game is becoming more dynamic – physically and mentally – and I think we’re trying to improve players’ skills towards that.

“We want a fully inclusive environment, no self-catering, we’re all in it together. Everyone has to communicate well and make sure that carries through to matchdays as well.”

Hill’s assistant, David Flitcroft, was applauded by many Wanderers fans this week after discussing the need to strengthen relationships with local grassroots football and potentially open up the club’s training ground wider to the public.

The Bolton boss has echoed similar wide-ranging sentiments and he is keen to ensure that they do not come across as confrontational.

“We want to be able to make the biggest impact we can as a management team and in order to do that we have got to promote the type of environment we want,” he said. “The players and the staff have to buy into that.

“We want a winning training ground, a place where people feel they can come and improve. It has to be professional and a football home where the players can embrace and enjoy it.

“We are trying to change the culture to what we need. Every manager is different in what they expect on a training facility and I think it exists to produce players. But it won’t happen overnight, it all needs working towards.

“We are not enforcing anything, we’re just trying to educate on a different way that things can be done that suits me and Dave and the things we want to put together.

“We want to see players improve and future groups we’ll be working with, we want them all to embrace it and the players seem to be. It’s important they respond, and they have been.”