The 24-year-old, who has played a total of 55 games for Warriors, was named the new skipper at Sixways before a serious ankle injury robbed him of the chance to feature in the first six months of action.
Pennell has returned to training this season eager to stake his claim for a starting spot when Sale Sharks arrive for the opening day on September 3.
And he insists the team is under no illusions of what is required of them over the coming weeks as preparations continue for life back in the big time.
He said: "It's vital that we work as hard as we possibly can over these next two months, we know that every other team will be in extremely good physical shape. In terms of the quality of rugby player, we are coming up against a different level compared to last season.
"In order for us to compete, not only do we need to be fitter and stronger than the opposition, we have to make sure that we are improving as rugby players every day. This period gives us a real opportunity to focus on what we need to improve on.
"The first few weeks have been tough," he smiled. "You know what to expect on the first Monday back, you come back and have body fat testing, strength testing and fitness testing -it's a long day and it was hard.
"But the real positive is that everyone has come back in very good nick. The fitness scores are miles ahead of where we were this time last year. The strength and conditioning staff have been able to focus on exactly what they want to in an ideal world. Two weeks in and we are holding up well.
"On a personal level, the last pre-season was up and down," added Pennell. "I was in a really good place coming to the end of pre-season last year before the injury.
"If I can replicate that in any way this year, and get myself right in the pre-season games, then fingers crossed I will be pulling on a starting jersey on that first weekend.
"That would mean a huge amount to me and cap off what is hopefully going to be a top pre-season."