The returning Ben Wyatt believes his recent higher-level experience could be key in helping St Albans City to "go one further and get promoted" this season.

The 27-year-old was a hugely popular player when he made 39 appearances for Saints in the 2018-19 season, winning the first three player of the month awards before claiming a fourth and the player of the year title as well.

He then moved up a division to sign for Sutton United and spent three successful years there, which included winning the National League title in 2021, before a spell at Torquay United.

He now returns to Hertfordshire with the aim of getting back those heights.

"I was very young when I came here before," said the left-back.

"I was full of enthusiasm and I really enjoyed it but now that I’ve gone away and played in League Two and the National League with Sutton, and gained experience from that, hopefully I can bring that back as a slightly older player and get us a good season.

"Look how close they came last season. It would be nice to go one further and actually get promoted."

And he sees no reason why that couldn't happen.

"The club’s well set up to go up," he said. "I think it’s [been] ready to do that for a long time.

"Everyone is pulling in the same direction and wanting to get promoted. I’ve done it in this league through the play-offs before [with Braintree Town in 2018], so it would be great to get into the National [League]."

Wyatt's second debut came in Saints' second pre-season fixture, a 1-0 defeat at Clarence Park to National League Maidenhead United.

The only goal came from the penalty spot in the opening minutes of the game after Daniel Bowry upended Lewis Kinsella, allowing a trialist to send Michael Johnson the wrong way.

From then on, the home side were forced back for much of the first half, struggling to find any rhythm in the attacking areas and repeatedly losing possession in their defensive third.

The introduction of Shaun Jeffers significantly improved City's momentum after the break with the prolific centre forward their biggest threat.

He was unlucky not to equalise when a thunderbolt free-kick that was clawed away by Craig Ross in the Magpies’ net.

"I thought it was more a game of two halves," said David Noble. "Maidenhead were definitely the better team in the first half and I thought we were slightly the better team in the second."

The returning Wyatt and youngster Charlie McDonald each featured for the final half hour of the match having both been announced as new signings earlier in the day.

With their arrivals, Noble feels his squad is near completion ahead of the new season.

He said: "We’re not far away now. I think that will be it for the signings anyway. We can get down to work."

And on the return of his former team-mate, the boss was full of praise.

"He’s a quality player," said Noble. "It’s one I’m happy to get over the line.

"He did well [in the] second half. I’m very happy [with] Ben, one of my old teammates, coming back. I’m sure he’ll have a good season."

Saints continue their pre-season preparations at 3pm on Saturday when they host Ebbsfleet United.