Kevin Nolan believes the Hammers' early return to pre-season will help give them a headstart on their Barclays Premier League rivals as the countdown to the 2013/14 campaign begins.

Nolan joined his teammates as they began their pre-season preparations at the Club's Chadwell Heath training base on Monday before heading off to a week-long training camp in Ireland, which begins on Tuesday.

West Ham United face their first game of the summer on Sunday when they face League of Ireland side Cork City at Turner's Cross and Nolan is sure the programme manager Sam Allardyce has put together will stand the Londoners in good stead for the campaign ahead.

VIEW OUR EXCLUSIVE PRE-SEASON PHOTO GALLERY!

He told West Ham TV: "I think the first couple of weeks of pre-season are about consolidating, getting a fitness base and making sure you don't pick up too many injuries early on.

"Looking at all the boys, we've done the bits and bobs we were set out to do by the fitness team over the summer, and we've got our first game on Sunday which we're looking forward to.

"We've got to make sure that step-by-step we get fitter and fitter, and are ready and raring to go when we face Cardiff at the Boleyn Ground for the first game of the season.

"I think we're one of the first Premier League teams back with the season seven weeks away. Sam's always done it this way, I've always found that he does it the right way and the plan is that we get off to another fantastic start this season."

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN ON WEST HAM TV HERE

As for the first day back, Nolan revealed it is not quite the shock to the system as it was in years gone by.

He added: "It's more of a meet-and-greet, because obviously the hard work starts on Tuesday in Ireland. We had a bit of a light jog, but nothing too heavy, like the old days when you'd come in and run until you were sick.

"It's not like that now, it's about building fitness. This is the start of a seven-week period to get ready for Cardiff.

"They've got it spot on here. I've worked with the gaffer and Macca [assistant manager Neil McDonald] for a long time and I know they get it right. I'm looking forward to a good week in Ireland with the boys, catching up on the banter and with what everyone's done over the last six weeks."