AMID the physical work and bonding with the supporters, one of the key reasons Oxford United came away for a week began yesterday.

Getting the culture in the first-team squad right is fundamental for head coach Michael Appleton and his staff.

It demands a level of professionalism which extends well beyond 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.

The building blocks for last season’s promotion were laid in part by group meetings in Austria 12 months ago, when the players were left in no doubt as to what was expected.

After individual sessions earlier this week, the first of the discussions with the squad began yesterday and will continue today and tomorrow.

Appleton and his staff take them very seriously – the meetings are the only elements of the trip off-limits to the media – but there is no doubt being away together helps reinforce the message.

After a recovery day following Tuesday night’s game, the physical demands will be cranked up today with a tough double session.

It is followed by tomorrow’s friendly with UD Marbella, who are unlikely to be prepared for 600 travelling fans turning up at the training ground.

As in Austria, their presence is a highlight and adds a splash of colour wherever they go.

Just like the players, the culture for the fans is forged on a trip like this as they gear up for the coming season.

And if this week is anything to go by, we can all look forward to another promising campaign.