North Leigh manager Mark Gee is hoping that getting his players back early for pre-season training will pay off, starting with the visit of Mangotsfield in Saturday’s opener.

Gee, in his 15th season at Eynsham Park, is hoping the early start will give his Division 1 South & West side the upper hand on their rivals.

“We got them in before the end of June,” said Gee. “It’s not like when I was a player – now you have gyms and that type of thing where the players can keep themselves fit.

“That means that when the players come back, we can have them working on tactics and team shape straight away.”

Continuing the theme, Gee deliberately made his signings early on, bringing in the former Oxford City duo of keeper Matt Bulman and midfielder Callum McNish.

He has also brought in ex-U’s youngster Conor Ingram, while Matt Woodley has returned after short spells at Abingdon United and Didcot Town last season.

They have also signed former Aberdeen and Bolton striker Michael Bird, who contacted Gee over the summer after getting a teaching job at the Oxford Academy.

“He badgered me about coming along for training and I agreed,” said Gee.

“He adds something else for us. He makes good runs and holds the ball up well.

“But he has been out football for three years, so it’s going to take time for him to adapt, so we have to be patient.”

The Millers have lost the services of midfielder Liam Malone, who has returned to City, while winger Mark Bell has signed for newly-promoted Chesham United.

Gee, whose side have beaten Banbury United, Oxford City, Ardley United and Kidlington in pre-season, says he is looking to stage another play-off tilt.

He added: “That’s got to be the aim.”