MARK Bentley is counting down the days until Canvey Island’s Isthmian North campaign gets underway.

The Gulls endured a frustrating term last season but they have been in good form this summer.

Canvey continued their preparations by recording a 3-2 win over a Leyton Orient XI and Bentley feels his side are ready for the big kick-off.

“I’m desperate for the season to start now,” said Bentley, who will enjoy his first full term in charge at Park Lane after succeeding Danny Heale as boss in October.

“I think we’re ready physically and the boys are working hard.

“We’re playing the right way and when the grass on the pitch is cut it will be easier for us to play our passing game.

“We are going in the right direction at the moment and it’s positive in the changing room.

“The mood is good and there is a real togetherness.

“I’m really pleased, so roll on August 17.”

Canvey were pegged back twice by the O’s - who included the likes of Matt Harrold, Dean Brill and James Alabi in their starting line-up - after Dan Humphreys and Albert Levett had given the hosts the lead on two occasions.

It looked as though it would finish honours even until Kane Gilbert struck the winner late on.

Despite going up against a competitive Orient side, Bentley still gave an opportunity to various promising youngsters who are making their mark at Benfleet.

And Bentley feels some of the teenagers have a bright future ahead of them.

The ex-Southend United midfielder added: “I trust them and they wouldn’t be in the squad if I didn’t think they could perform.

“It’s not about results at this stage because we’re still in pre-season, so I want to have a really good look at them.

“Rob Lacey has come in after not really getting a chance last year. He texted me over the summer asking if he could come and do pre-season with us.

“I told him to come in and we’d have a look.

“I think he’s been really good. He’s looking fit, comfortable on the ball and he’s also got a little bit of bite about him.

“I like that because it means you care.”

Bentley was also pleased to see Gilbert, who is yet to score a competitive goal in Canvey colours, net the winner.

“I’m buzzing for Kane to score because it’s been getting to him that he hasn’t scored any goals” admitted Bentley.

“He scored with a great finish and hopefully that will kickstart his career here.”