Six months since they last kicked a ball in anger, and three weeks after the usual ‘Big Kick-Off’, Torquay United’s players finally started pre-season training at the club’s Seale Hayne Training Complex this evening (Monday).

All arriving in separate cars, and split into maximum groups of five to observe Covid-19 virus protocols, the Gulls’ strengthened squad were put through their paces by manager Gary Johnson and assistant Aaron Downes.

It was the first time they had been together since the week when the 2019-2020 National League season was curtailed just before United were due to travel to an away game at Boreham Wood on March 14.

They have five weeks to prepare before the 2020-2021 campaign opens on October 3, although the Premier League and EFL will already be well under way by then. And the NL still hasn’t released its own fixtures.

Summer signings Danny Wright, Andrew Nelson, Gary Warren, Fraser Kerr and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans have been added to Johnson’s roster in recent weeks.

“The first session went very well,” said the Gulls’ boss.

“It was a very different way of turning up, a very different way of grouping the players and a very different way to social distance from the last time we were at the training ground.

“But I am very pleased with their fitness.

“To be fair to them, they’ve been maintaining their fitness for the last 23 weeks, albeit on their own - it’s been the longest pre-season ever!”