Phil Parkinson is confident that Will Atkinson can get the Valley Parade doubters on his side.

Atkinson is one of seven signings as City prepare to get into pre-season for real after two days of fitness testing.

The likes of Garry Thompson, Stephen Darby and Andrew Davies have caused a buzz among fans, who are desperate to see an end to a decade of under-achievement at the club.

But the response to Atkinson getting a permanent one-year deal has been more muted.

The midfielder had a difficult time on loan last season and is looking to up his game this time around.

Parkinson is convinced that will happen and firmly backs Atkinson to rediscover the form that attracted City’s attention in the first place.

Parkinson knows the 23-year-old is a better player than the one seen so far. Although signed primarily as cover – he can play on either wing – the City chief reckons Atkinson will have a part to play.

He said: “Will had a bit of a slow start but I thought he did well for us in the last few games of the season.

“I had a good chat with him at the end of the season and he knows he really needs to get himself going this year. I know Will has got quality there. He’s another one who has played at a decent level and he has worked really hard over the summer to get fitter and stronger.

“He’s worked on his off-season programme and looked really good when we were in for fitness checks.”

Parkinson is also looking to Atkinson to provide goals from midfield – a real problem for City last season.

He scored one for the club against Barnet but had netted four times on loan at Plymouth up to Christmas.

Parkinson added: “We need goals from the midfield four and I know Will can do that.

“He had a goal ratio of one in five last season for Plymouth. He is a cool finisher – it’s just that the goals he’s got have been elsewhere.

“But we know he is someone who can put the ball in the net from wide areas.

“Will’s the type of player who’s been here, there and everywhere on loan. Now he has the chance to settle down and do well at this club.

“It is a new season and a clean slate. I’m really pleased with the way Will has worked hard already and pre-season will only make him better.”

Pre-season officially begins this morning after the players came back last week for fitness work. They have returned in good shape after following strict off-season programmes.

Atkinson said: “It’s exciting to get back. I know some players dread pre-season but it’s a lot different now.

“We’ve all been in for fitness tests and everyone was looking fit and sharp. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.”