Michael Woods hopes his first full pre-season “for ages” will provide a launchpad for a successful year with Hartlepool United.
The midfielder is fit and ready for his third season with Pools which should run smoother than the previous two.
Woods turned his back on summer interest from several clubs, including Oldham Athletic in League One, to remain a part of Craig Hignett’s squad.
And his confidence is high, both from a team and personal level.
Woods was a shrewd Colin Cooper signing just before the start of the 2014-15 programme, the former Chelsea player having fallen into non-league football following injury issues.
And his luck with injuries re-surfaced in the early days of the Great Escape when the the 26-year-old suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula.
The summer of 2015 was spent working with head physio Ian Gallagher before regaining his fitness in a punishing pre-season.
“It’s been ages since I had a proper pre-season, probably four years back when I was at Doncaster,” Woods told SportMail.
“It’s important. It gives you that base to kick on from there into the season.”
And kick on is what the Yorkshireman intends to do.
He’s looked extremely busy in midfield, impressing at Livingston and Guisborough Town over the last week and was set to line up in the middle of the park against Scunthorpe at Victoria park this afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
Woods said the training camp in Tenerife was tough but has given the players a core fitness with the games now adding a match fitness.
“The lads, or most of us, had 90 minutes in midweek,” said Woods, who came off as a precaution after a second-half knock at the King George V Ground.
“We now have the Scunthorpe game, which will be a good guide as to where we’re at, and we’ll have a full week to get ready for the Colchester match next Saturday.
“I’m sure we’ll be ready [for the season].
“Tenerife was hard I can assure you. I think some people may have looked at it and thought we were on holiday, but they’d be very wrong.
“It was very hard work, but it served its purpose.”
Woods believes today’s match with the Iron will be an acid test for Pools to get ready for League Two.
And while the 6-0 romp at Guisborough provided confidence he said last Saturday’s 0-0 draw should not be decried.
“It was a great work-out, very competitive,” he said. “Livingston are already under way for their season and had played League Cup games.
“It would have been easy for the gaffer to have picked up a local team back home, but the lads came off thinking we’d had a proper game.
“Both sides were leaving the foot in, that’s what we need, proper football.”