VALE of Leithen boss Chris Anderson believes he has got a “much stronger team” than last year, as the countdown to the new season begins.

The Innerleithen side will kick off their Lowland League campaign two weeks tomorrow against new boys Bonnyrigg Rose.

And the gaffer says his side are ready for the challenge.

He told the Peeblesshire News: “We have still got a few boys on holiday, so there are still a few to come back into the squad. But I think we have got a much stronger team this time around.

“I think we have recruited really well to bring in the players that we need.

“It is great to have guys like Paul Thomson at the back, and Tommy Patterson coming back to the club.

“I think they will be excellent for us.”

The Vale played their second pre-season game at Victoria Park on Tuesday night against Penicuik Athletic.

And they still have warm-up matches against Dunbar United, Peebles Rovers, Dalkeith Thistle and Upper Annandale to come.

Then on Saturday, July 27, Anderson will take his team to New Dundas Park for the league opener before returning to Victoria Park for a midweek Borders derby with Gala Fairydean Rovers.

And the Vale boss is expecting an even more competitive division this year, with the additions of promoted Bonnyrigg Rose and Berwick Rangers, who were relegated from SPFL League Two.

Anderson added: “The Lowland League is going to be so much stronger this year, but I think we have improved year in, year out.

“This is my fourth season here, so we just want to keep on improving and try to better what we achieved last year.”

Elsewhere, Gala Fairydean Rovers will kick off their Lowland League campaign at home. They welcome Cumbernauld Colts to Netherdale, who finished in 7th place last term.