There’s nothing non-league about Maidstone United’s pre-season preparation and new signing Henry Woods should know.
The midfielder has spent the past four years as a professional at Gillingham but feels as fit as ever under the guidance of the Stones set-up.
“I have been really impressed with training, it has been hard in pre-season but I have loved it,” said the 22-year-old former Southampton youngster.
“The set-up is a league set-up, the gaffer [Hakan Hayrettin] and [assistant manager] Terry Harris have been around Football League clubs and National League clubs for years, with the experience they have got they know what is needed.
“Everything has been good and there is no difference between what we’ve done and at a league club. I feel just as fit, definitely.
“It hasn’t surprised me because I saw how strong the National League was last year.
"I know other players and other clubs and the pre-season they are having, the league itself is a professional league, clubs are full-time, professional, it will be tough this season but I think we are in a good place.”
Woods spent last year on loan at Dover. He had a year left on his contract at Gillingham but the taste of regular action in the National League last season convinced him it was time to move on. Maidstone was an easy pick.
“I'm 22 now, I want to push on and play games of football,” he said.
“Speaking to the gaffer and Terry and what they want to achieve and seeing how they play and what they want from a player in my position, that is what led me to Maidstone.
“I had a good chat with [Gillingham manager] Neil Harris and I already had in my head what I wanted. I hadn’t spoken to any clubs at that point but, in my mind, I knew I wanted a fresh start and the club were good about it, really helpful.
“Hopefully this can be a fresh start and it goes well. At my age, games are what will help me learn and improve.
“I played a lot of games last season and I'm hoping I can use that experience into this year and, hopefully, we can have a positive season.
"I'm quite confident with how the season could potentially go.”
Maidstone beat the traffic chaos to play Folkestone away last Saturday, winning the match 2-1. The game doubled up as a testimonial for former Stones promotion-winner Ian Draycott.
Goals from Roarie Deacon and Hady Ghandour - from the penalty spot - put the Stones two goals up before Invicta got one back through Ade Yusuff.
Draycott came close to scoring but was denied by the woodwork.
Maidstone won 5-0 away at Cray Valley on Tuesday.
An own goal put the Stones ahead, Jack Barham doubled the advantage after being fouled for a penalty and Regan Booty made it three before the break. Ghandour’s header was turned in by a Cray player to make it four and Perri Iandolo completed the scoring.
Cray missed the chance to pull a goal back on 90 minutes after Stones keeper Tom Hadler conceded a penalty, with the spot-kick being fired over.
Maidstone complete their pre-season programme with a home game against National League South Dulwich Hamlet this Saturday.