Everton defender Johnny Heitinga is feeling the benefit of a full summer break, and is hoping the hard work put in over pre-season will help him return in peak condition in 2011-12.
The 27-year-old Dutchman went all the way to the World Cup final with Holland in South Africa last summer, and as a result didn't return to Goodison Park until the Barclays Premier League campaign was almost underway.
But having been able to take advantage of four-week rest period, Heitinga is relishing the prospect of a return to action next season.
"Last year was quite hard because I came back on the 2nd of August but this time I can do the pre-season with my teammates and that is good for me and good for the team," he said.
"I had a longer holiday and as a football player after a long season you need a break and last year I only had ten days off. This year I've had four weeks off so it's good for me."
Heitinga is currently in Philadelphia with the rest of the Toffees squad on the club's pre-season tour of America, and is looking forward to getting some game time under his belt with the upcoming fixtures against Philadelphia Union and DC United, but warned he would be treating them as anything but a friendly.
"I am looking forward to the games," he continued. "If we play a game, I always want to win. It doesn't matter if it's a friendly, a league match or a cup match, a club game or an international game."