AS Middlesbrough prepare to take the next step in preparations for the new season, sought-after winger Adama Traore has described how the demands placed on the players from Tony Pulis is shaping them up well for August.

Boro will play their first friendly of the summer on Thursday evening (6pm) in Austria when they bring an end to their training camp by facing Sturm Graz.

Pulis will be looking to give as many of his players an outing as he possibly can, including summer recruits Paddy McNair and Aden Flint.

Both signings have been working with their new team-mates in Austria, where it has not all been about fitness sessions and getting the ball out to get things moving towards the new campaign.

Pulis has deliberately made things hard for his players in his first pre-season in charge of the group and a number of gruelling challenges, including running and cycling up hills, have been designed to help team spirit and morale too.

Traore, who has a lot of interest in him this summer after it emerged Huddersfield and Wolves are the latest Premier League clubs keen, thinks the tasks the squad has faced will help them when it comes down to playing competitively.

“The first thing what the gaffer’s objective is, is to work mentally as a group,” said the winger. “This is good for everyone because it makes you strong. It puts everyone together, and it puts the group forward.

“If we have bad moments in the season or in a game, we have this experience that we’ve been through together and mentally to stay strong.

“We’ve been enjoying all the work we’ve done so far and you enjoy it because you feel fit. You feel good and of course we’d like to show the work we’ve been doing when we play, but it’s only our first week and there’s a long way to go yet.”

Traore, speaking to the club website in Austria, was not discussing his future. The latest interest in him from the Premier League, having already been aware of West Ham, Newcastle and Chelsea’s previous attention, has led to news of a release clause - said to be £18m - in his contract. Aston Villa, his previous club, are believed to be entitled to 20 per cent of a future sell-on too.

But Traore has been happy performing for Pulis and Middlesbrough, and is certainly not in any rush to leave as he focuses on building up his fitness for the Championship opener at Millwall on August 11.

The 22-year-old said: “It’s been hard (in Austria), particularly the fitness work, but it’s been good for the team and to be working in a different style. Everyone is happy, and when everyone is happy you can get results in whatever you are doing and looking to achieve.

“The gaffer did say it will be tough and it would be hard and this is what we expected. Whatever is the work, the gaffer puts in a lot of planning, and we do it and work hard, and give 100 per cent in what we do.”

Traore is not the only Middlesbrough player to be attracting interest and one player Pulis would be happier to see go is Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite.

After the Danes’ World Cup hopes came to an end, Braithwaite is now having a break and weighing up his options but he could soon have the option of a move to Italy to consider.

Lazio are readying an offer for him and face a battle with Bordeaux, who have previously admitted they would like him back there after last season’s loan. Middlesbrough are looking to get the majority of the £9m fee they paid for him last summer back.