JAMIE Mackie is excited at the prospect of getting a good pre-season under his belt.

The striker joined Oxford United late last summer, meaning he missed out on the majority of the intense training undertaken by the rest of the squad.

Trying to play catch-up, the 33-year-old picked up a series of niggling injuries in the early part of the campaign.

But Mackie is delighted with how the first two weeks of pre-season have gone this time around.

The former Scotland international is being put through his paces with the rest of the U’s squad in Portugal this week, ahead of their first friendly against Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday.

And although the tough schedule is pushing the players to the hilt, Mackie knows it will reap rewards.

“One hundred per cent (this pre-season is crucial for me),” said the forward, who scored six goals in 48 appearances in 2018/19.

“I haven’t had a pre-season in a while and it’s imperative.

“Last year, I wasn’t properly fit until around Christmas time.

“And you saw in the second half of the season, when we had another striker as well, the improvement in my performance.

“I want to play well this year and do as well as I can.

“I’m looking forward to it, so I need a full pre-season and I need to be fit.”

A lot has already been said about the amount of hard work United’s players have endured so far.

Overseen by head of physical performance Chris Short, Karl Robinson’s men have been sweating in the Portuguese sun.

But Mackie, driven by the benefits of pre-season, is enjoying the sessions.

He said: “They’re sensible with the recovery as well, so when we’re in we can properly go at it.

“It’s meant to be hard and you’re meant to get fit.

“If you do come through pre-season without injuries and working hard, you don’t half feel good at the start of the season and that’s what it’s all about.”

Mackie added: “It’s not like when I first started (in the professional game).

“You were dropped at the bottom of a hill and you had to find your way to the top and you had to shed a stone of weight.

“It’s scientific now and the approach is right.

“So the balls are out straight away, we’re working hard, and I’m really positive.”