After making the summer switch to Vale Park from Welsh Premier League side The New Saints, Connell Rawlinson is eager to stake a claim for a place in the heart of the Valiants' defence.
The 26-year-old played the full 90 minutes alongside Nathan Smith against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend, and the centre-back enjoyed the workout against strong Championship opposition.
He said: "My legs will be sore tomorrow, but it was good to get 90 minutes along with a few of the other lads. The team did really well up against a very strong outfit, so it is only looking good from here.
"As a defender, it is disappointing to concede any goal, but to ship one from a set piece is frustrating. However, you only have to look at the squad Blackburn brought here, they showed us huge respect and we did well against them.
"I thought we limited chances and I can only remember two that we cleared off the line, but I enjoyed playing with Nathan Smith, Gibbo on the right and Rory on the left. It was a young back four, but we kept a high line to remain brave and it paid off.
"We had good support for a pre-season friendly, people have come out to see what the new signings are about and how the team is gelling together. It's a nice pitch, a big stadium and there are good lads in the changing room - I think we will do well this season."
Having been in and around his new teammates for a few weeks now, Rawlinson has been impressed with the standard in the squad and he believes there will be great competition for places.
The trip to Ireland has helped the fresh faces get to know their fellow professionals, and the defender is now focused on impressing during the remaining pre-season fixtures, starting with next weekend's home clash against Blackpool.
He said: "The standard is really good every day and the competition for places is keeping the lads on their toes, but that will keep everybody sharp come the 4th August and the gaffer has assembled a strong squad.
"We went out to Ireland and had a few days of really solid training, putting in the graft and running alongside football. Then we had a night of bonding where we watched the England game together which I thought was important for the lads to get to know each other.
"Those pre-season camps are vital in ensuring you have a good changing room for when you start the competitive games, and the lads who have been here previously have welcomed all of the lads that the gaffer has signed.
"The new lads are all very sound boys, and I am buzzing to start the season in August. I just want to keep doing well in training, work hard on my fitness to make sure I am in the best possible condition, and just give the manager a bit of a headache when it comes to selection."