IF Angelo Alessio had taken a leaf out of Marcelo Bielsa's pre-match preparation playbook he might have got more than he bargained for ahead of Kilmarnock's meeting with Connah's Quay Nomads.

And that's because Kilmarnock boss Alessio would have been privy to the intense nature of Nomads' training sessions, which have left players with bumps and bruises, and in one case, broken bones.

Bielsa infamously owned up to 'spying' on Leeds' Championship opponents after one of the Argentinian's staff were caught watching a Derby County training session in January.

"There's been the odd kick here and there, but that's natural in our training sessions," said Nomads boss Andy Morrison with a wry smile.

"I think Conor Harwood broke his nose in training and we've had a couple of really full on 50/50s that have left people with lumps on their shins, but that's just normal for our sessions.

"The boys don't hold back, but it's a really healthy competitive nature that we've created here.

"We let it go as much as we can because the lads don't hold back, but it's done with respect and there's no malice whatsoever. If someone does catch someone they are quick to pick their team-mates up.

"I like it. It's competitive and that's how it should be. The lads want to win, whether that's a small-sided game or a keep-ball session that leads you on to the same mentality when it's an 11v11 game.

"The next one for us is Kilmarnock and we will be ready."

Morrison has been as thorough - and above board - in his preparations for tomorrow night's Europa League first qualifying round tie in Rhyl as ever, heading over to Marbella to watch Kilmarnock's friendly defeat to Dinamo Bucharest.

The former Manchester City captain knows only too well how difficult the two-legged tussle with a side that finished third in last season's Scottish Premiership will be, but is also aware of how fired up his group of players are.

"You will always get something from the game," said Morrison of his scouting mission. "It was an extremely hot night, over 30 degrees at kick-off, and there wasn't much in the game until 10 minutes from the end when Kilmarnock made six or seven changes.

"I saw enough to make me think that we can cause them problems and I also saw enough to know that they are a very good team.

"We need them to have an off night and we will need so many things to go our way to overcome such a huge gulf in clubs and the standard of football.

"We are mindful of that, but it's the opportunity and I can see in the boys' eyes this week that the opportunity to challenge yourself against supposedly better players from a supposedly better league is one they want, they love that.

"The lads are of the mindset: Bring it on. We will leave nothing behind. If we come up short it's because they're better footballers and that's it. It won't be because our preparation wasn't right or because they were more intense and aggressive than us."

Alessio has had less than a month to work with his Kilmarnock players after replacing Steve Clarke at the helm, bringing in goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu on-loan from Juventus and signing midfielder Mohamed El Makrini from Roda JC.

Morrison is cautious as to how the change in manager might impact Kilmarnock tomorrow night.

"You can look at it from both sides of the coin," he said.

"It's a new manager and every player is back in the picture, every player is playing for their place, every player wants to start when the season begins, or if they get past us they face Partizan Belgrade, so that's their incentive.

"On the flip side, they've obviously had a very successful season last year under Steve Clarke and that's a hard act to follow. To go and have another successful season is a big challenge because teams are more mindful of what you've done before and they know your key players.

"I think there is a positive and a negative to a new manager coming in and it's up to us to try and work as hard as we can on the negative."