Phil Parkinson can see Aaron Mclean emerging as a real goal threat for City next season.
The January signing has taken time to find his feet at Valley Parade but bowed out with a bang by scoring in both of their final two games.
After firing the winner at Tranmere, Parkinson expects Mclean to look much sharper for his first full campaign with the club. Parkinson said: “Goals give you confidence and you could see that in his game.
“The way he put that in the back of the net – the moment it left his foot, you hardly saw the ball travel. Next thing you knew it was nestling in the corner but that’s what we know he is capable of.
“When I speak about Aaron, it’s not making excuses for him, but when he came in, he hadn’t played regular football for ages.
“Your body deconditions. He’s not an unfit lad but the demands of playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday are tough when you haven’t done it for a long time.
“He’s had some very good games for us, like Colchester away and Port Vale at home, and been terrific. But then he’s also had a couple of really poor ones where he just hasn’t had the energy – and that’s what his game is about.
“The benefit of these games he will take into next season with him.
“Equally he knows that conditioning-wise we’ve got to really work with him. We’ve got plenty of time now before next season starts on August 9.”
City will get a full summer off after last year’s was truncated by the play-off final. But the players will be given off-season fitness programmes.
Parkinson is confident that Mclean will follow his to the letter.
He added: “I know Aaron will do that and he’ll come back and be a threat for us. He’s not scared of missing, which is a good trait.
“He always gets in there and that’s what I like about him. He’ll always get in that six-yard box and he puts himself in the position to take chances.”
City made sure of an 11th-placed finish with back-to-back victories and Parkinson admitted that everyone was ready for the break.
“All the staff have worked tirelessly and I’ve got to thank them for that.
“We’ve hardly had a day off in a nine-month season because, even if we’re not in the ground, we’re always talking and planning what we’re going to do and watching games.
“The work that the people around me have done has been absolutely outstanding.
“To finish 11th is a tremendous achievement in our first year back in this division, with the injuries we’ve had and selling our top scorer. I don’t think anyone else in the division has sold a striker for £1 million plus.
“We told the lads that if you switched off in the Crawley game or this one, you finish 14th or 15th and the league table doesn’t look as good.
“But now we’ve finished above a team like Walsall, who everyone’s been raving about all season and saying how good they are. Little things like that mean a lot to the players.
“You’ve got to remember that for a lot of them this is their first time at this level. People like Jon McLaughlin, Rory McArdle and James Meredith have never been in this division before.”