BOSTON United fans can expect to see a new and improved Nathan Stainfield this season after the defender confessed he was three yards off the pace last term.
After being plucked from neighbours Boston Town, the emergence of Stainfield was one of the highlights of an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Pilgrims.
But after spending three months working in America last year and not joining the Pilgrims until September, Stainfield did not enjoy a full pre-season and was playing catch-up on the fitness front for most of the campaign.
But with a full pre-season behind him, Stainfield believes he will be better equipped to contain Blue Square Bet North strikers this season.
"I spent three months in Massachusetts last year teaching golf and soccer, which I absolutely loved," explained Stainfield, who is training to be a teacher and plays off a handicap of two.
"I like to keep myself in shape, but I probably overindulged while I was over there and came back in the worst shape of my life.
"I came back and played for Boston Town before signing for United and early on it was really difficult in terms of fitness.
"I felt three yards off the pace. Everyone felt miles sharper than me.
"But my fitness improved as the season progressed and I was gutted when the season ended. I just wanted to keep going.
"We're back in pre-season training now and, to be honest, it's a joy.
"I love the structure of the training and my fitness is improving all the time.
"I've been playing part-time for a few years now, but not at this level. It's hard, but it's really enjoyable, too.
"We've been doing a lot of running of course, but we've had the footballs out too. The gaffer believes in us getting fit while playing.
"I just can't wait for the season to start now."
After being thrown into the team by managers Jason Lee and Lee Canoville, Stainfield and fellow youngster Tom Ward were asked to learn on the job last season.
"I've known Tom for a while anyway and it was good playing alongside him," added Stainfield, who was spotted by Lee while making a one-off appearance for Swineshead against United Reserves last season.
"During games we'd help each other along and talk to each other a lot.
"I thought we complemented each well because we've got different attributes.
"It was difficult at times because it's a big step up from the UCL.
"I learnt more from my mistakes than from my good performances.
"No one is harder on me than I am, I'm my own worst critic.
"In fact, the manager has told me I probably analysis my game too much. But I've always been like that."
Following last night's friendly at Glen Maddison's Sleaford Town, the Pilgrims continue their pre-season campaign at Rainworth Miners Welfare on Saturday.
That is followed by a county cup tie at Lincoln United on Tuesday.
Boston have added a friendly against a Peterborough United XI to their pre-season programme.
The Posh will visit the Jakemans Stadium on Tuesday, August 7 (7.45pm kick-off).