THERE might be almost six weeks to go before the start of the new Blue Square Bet North season but Worcester City are already back in the groove.

The players have returned for pre-season training and the summer break is a distant memory — not that there has been much sun to speak of.

As always, the personnel has been a mix of the players retained from last season’s squad, new signings and hopefuls seeking to prove they are worth taking on for the 2012-13 campaign.

Not all will be successful — there were 28 present at the first session at Pershore High School — but it will give manager Carl Heeley and assistant Matt Gardiner plenty of food for thought over the next month or so.

Although it is still early days — the new term starts a week later on Saturday, August 18, at promoted Bradford Park Avenue because of the Olympics — the City boss has been impressed with what he has seen so far.

“The fitness levels of all the boys are excellent so that’s very pleasing and there are some technically good players,” Heeley said.

“We are going to have another couple of friendlies because of the number of players we have got and it being a longer pre-season.”

Those extra friendlies are yet to be announced but it will take the number of warm-up matches to seven, starting against West Bromwich Albion at St George’s Lane on Tuesday, July 17 (7.45pm).

Until then, City are working primarily on fitness, combined with some ball work, but last season’s players were given exercise programmes to keep them in shape which has enabled them to hit the ground running.

“The days of doing four and five-mile runs are long gone,” Heeley admitted.

Left winger Danny Edwards missed the first session through illness but has since returned, while centre-half duo Jacob Rowe and Lee Ayres are due to link up soon.

Rowe has already agreed terms for another season and Ayres is expected to join him.