BEN Purkiss believes playing in the World Student Games will prove ideal preparation for the new Blue Square Premier season.

York City right-back Purkiss is a member of the 28-strong Great Britain squad for the Belgrade competition, which begins tomorrow. The law student will miss the start of City’s pre-season training as a result and is also due to be unavailable for the club’s first friendly against Leeds United a week on Sunday.

But, having received permission from manager Martin Foyle to make the trip, Purkiss feels the international tournament will serve as an excellent pre-season exercise ahead of the Minstermen’s first game of the season on August 8.

He said: “I will miss the Leeds game, which is a bit disappointing. Even though they’re still in League One, it’s always a big match against them but being in Belgrade will be really beneficial for the season in terms of fitness. You can’t match playing in 40 degrees and the standard and the ability of some of the teams is scary.

“I didn’t want to go without the manager’s blessing but we talked about the disadvantages and advantages. He’s a bit worried about me picking up injuries but that could happen if I stayed in York as well.

“At least, in Serbia, I will have all the top physios and sports scientists around. The start of the season, though, is obviously more important than playing in the Games and, if I get any kind of niggle, I will pull straight out of the competition.”

Having played in the last World Student Games four years ago, Purkiss admitted his selection for the squad does not really compensate for missing out on an England ‘C’ cap last season due to injury.

He is also realistic about Great Britain’s chances of success with other nations taking academic sport more seriously.

Purkiss is joined in Belgrade by Kettering centre-back Exodus Geohaghan and former Harrogate Town and Harrogate Railway ’keeper Jon McLaughlan, who now plays for Bradford City, but Japan are likely to be favourites for success.

Team GB have been drawn against Serbia, Mexico and Ghana in the group stages and Purkiss said: “We didn’t do particularly well last time and came 12th out of 18 teams.

“Japan normally win because they feed all their players through the university system. It’s, more or less, their national under-23 team and their budget is massive, while we have a relatively small one.

“They also prepare thoroughly but we only get one week at Lilleshall. There are a few of us at professional clubs and the other lads are mainly players who have been on scholarships in the States and are very good athletes.”

Purkiss has now completed his LPC qualification, having attended afternoon lectures at York’s College of Law over the last year.

He also sat five exams in February and another four after the end of the season but Purkiss revealed the studying provided a welcome distraction from his football duties.

The former Gainsborough Trinity full-back added: “You get a lot of time off as a footballer as we can’t train all day, every day. I feel I need something to get away from football because, sometimes, if things aren’t going well, it can weigh you down and you can also get carried away if things are good.

“I will probably find something to do again next season although I’m pretty much done with exams. I don’t want to do any more.”

Having held off signing a new contract at Bootham Crescent to measure up whether the club’s ambitions for 2009/10 match his own, Purkiss put pen to paper after being encouraged by the club’s close-season recruits.

He said: “I was looking for the club to be serious about going forward and, with the signings we have made, it seems they are. The priority next season must be making sure we are up there.

“In fact, that should be the priority every single season. This time, though, the manager seems to have been backed and there’s a clear structure to what he wants and the players he has identified to improve the team.

“Playing at right-back, I’ve come up against Craig Nelthorpe a few times and I remember the really good Doncaster team that played us and he did well then. I hope he can do the same for us.”