OXFORD United’s coaches have been impressed with the way their players have hit the ground running.

The U’s senior and under 23 squads completed their first full day of pre-season at the training ground yesterday.

After returning on Saturday for testing, the players started this week with a light gym session before a series of exhausting runs and exercises on the pitches.

This was followed by strength training in the afternoon, with United’s squad set for further gruelling workouts for the next two days.

They will then be given time to rest before heading out to Portugal for more intense work next week.

Their first session was all done under the watchful eye of the club’s sports science team and Chris Short has been pleased with what he has seen.

“It’s been good and hopefully that will continue,” said United’s head of physical performance.

“The players have come back in really good shape.

“We give them off-season programmes and certain players have to come back in (to the training ground) during that period as well.

“It’s very much individualised, but the proof is in the pudding.

“When they come back they’re in good shape and they’re ready to go, so it makes it easier for the staff and we can progress them a little bit quicker.”

He added: “Back when I was playing, it was a week-ten days before the balls came out, so things have changed.

“It’s more integrated and there’s a little bit more variety and hopefully more enjoyable, if that’s the word.”

Gavin Whyte and Mark Sykes were the only absentees.

The duo will join the U’s in Portugal after being called up to Northern Ireland’s training camp over the summer.

Rob Hall, who had already been hard at work to get up to speed after an eight-month injury lay-off, came through the session, while Shandon Baptiste completed the majority of the drills before conducting his own specific rehabilitation work.

Alex Rodriguez Gorrin – the only senior summer signing – looked sharp, while United will hope to have further new faces on board for next week’s training camp.

One player they have been linked with is former Rangers centre-back Danny Wilson, who is at MLS side Colorado Rapids.

Striker Jamie Mackie, who missed pre-season last year after signing midway through July, is ready to knuckle down.

He said: “The early signs are good.

“Our first proper day started off pretty hard.

“But pre-season’s got to be like that, so we’ve got no problem with it.”

Short is mixing it up tomorrow by taking the players to Oxford University’s Iffley Road Sports Complex.

“It will be a really hard track day, which I like,” he said.

“Even though we’re dealing with football players, if you’ve got a better athlete then the chances are you’re going to be a better player.

“We will be doing 300m repetitions, it’s demanding, and we’ll do a series of those.”