Bideford’s preparations for the new season begin on Tuesday with the visit of Exeter City.

The Robins’ fixture against the League Two side is the first of nine pre-season friendlies before their Evo-Stik League Division One South campaign begins on August 18.

The upcoming season will see Sean Joyce’s side looking to better their hard-fought eighth-place finish last season, when they missed out on the playoffs by a single point.

The Bideford manager said he couldn’t wait to get going after what was a much-needed rest.

“The run-in last season year was horrendous and the players needed that rest,” he said.

“We’ve got four or five weeks to get ourselves up to a certain level and hit the ground running.

“Pre-season, to me personally, I don’t really like it because there’s nothing on them. It’s a vehicle to get players fit and up to scratch.

“It’s still nice to win but it’ll be good to get the season started as quickly as we can.

“We’ve got two great teams coming in Exeter and Plymouth to start off. It’s good for the lads to play against teams like that and they will be two good games.”

The offseason has been quiet in comparison to last summer, with Joyce adding Plymouth Argyle youngsters Matt Ward and Aaron Taylor to an otherwise settled squad.

Billy Tucker is also rejoining the Robins after a stint in Australia and Liam Gregory’s return from a broken leg will feel like a new signing in itself.

Joyce is hoping the settled squad will be beneficial when the season starts.

“I’m pleased to have kept the lads I’ve kept. It was our best season in a long time last year, we just ran out of steam with too many games and too many postponements,” he said.

“It was a little bit against us, but to get as close as we did – I was really pleased.

“We had a lot of new players last season who all had to find out how we played, and after all their hard work last season I didn’t want to lose anybody, so it’s a great advantage for us. It means we’ve got a good shape and structure from day one.

“The Plymouth lads became available and they’re young and exciting players. They will come in and add to what we’ve got.

“Losing Billy was a massive loss when he went. At the time we lost him and Craig Duff and Liam Gregory got injured. Getting Billy back is like a new signing for me. Liam’s another one.

“It looks like we haven’t done a lot, but we’ve got lots coming back and I believe we’ll get better this year.”

Bideford’s pre-season schedule

Tuesday July 10: Exeter City (H) 7pm.

Saturday July 14: St Martins (A)

Wednesday July 18: Plymouth Argyle (H) 7.30pm.

Friday July 20: Cullompton Rangers (H) 7.30pm.

Tuesday July 24: Buckland Athletic (A)

Friday July 27: Torridgeside (H) 7.30pm

Tuesday July 31: Willand Rovers (A)

Friday August 3: Tavistock (H) 7.30pm

Tuesday August 7: Ilfracombe Town (H) 7.30pm.