RYAN Ledson is raring to get stuck into the battle today when Oxford United begin their Sky Bet League One campaign at Oldham Athletic.

The visitors will be boosted by the sight of a much better pitch at Boundary Park than on their last visit in March – a 2-1 defeat to John Sheridan’s forceful side on a mudheap.

Ledson admitted the playing surface immediately flashed across his mind when the fixtures came out.

But the combative midfielder is relishing getting back to the cut and thrust of league football.

He said: “I hope the pitch is better than last year, that’s exactly the first thing I thought.

“We know what we’ll get from Oldham, it will be a tough game.

“We’ll get balls coming at us from the back and we’ll have to win second balls, but that’s League One.

“These are the games I love to play in – you have to win tackles.

“You’re not going to ask Rob Hall to do that, are you?

“So you’ve got to have a few of us in the team who can do the dirty side to let the players who can stick the ball in the back of the net do their job.”

August 5 has felt like an eternity to come round for Ledson, who had to make the tough decision to rest a knee injury in April.

On top of missing the end of United’s season, it meant sitting out the Under 20 World Cup, which England went on to win in June.

The 19-year-old admitted it was tough to watch at times, but knows playing in the tournament risked a serious injury.

He said: “Obviously you’re going to be a bit hurt about it, but you know what – they’re all my mates.

“I knew they had a great chance and I had phone calls saying how gutted they were to miss me, which was nice.

“Missing it was a downer for me personally, but it’s gone now. What can you do?

“Imagine I went there, played a game and then miss six months with Oxford.

“No-one’s going to be happy then, are they?

“For me to be fit at the start of the season it was the aim we had and that’s happened.

“In training I’ve been feeling good and fit again.

“All we need to do now is finish off with a win and then it will be a perfect start.”