Hartlepool United will have their work cut out for them this season as many pundits predict a relegation battle on the ever-nearing horizon.
Hartlepool narrowly avoided relegation last season and the lack of movement in the transfer market this summer has a number of fans anxious ahead of the new campaign.
Furthermore, Hartlepool only managed one victory of their seven pre-season matches that coming against Northern League Division One side South Shields.
Yet despite a poor pre season Pools defender Neil Austin was drawing on the positives, saying: "We will pick up from the defeats, no-one wins anything in pre-season."
“We don't read too much into what has been happening. We have been playing a different system, with three strikers up top, and let's hope we can work harder and be better for it. The results aside, preparations have been good,” he added.
Meanwhile Hartlepool must also deal with the loss of the influential Gary Liddle who is suspended for their opener with newly promoted Rochdale. Ironically both clubs have the distinction of having played the most seasons in the Football League without ever reaching the top two tiers.
Ex-Middlesborough midfielder Liddle admitted that the squad is full of excitement ahead of the new season.
He said: "We're not going to lie about things - this is going to be another tough season with the teams in our division but we know we can compete.”
Despite Hartlepool not flashing the cash this summer a couple of new faces have arrived at Victoria Park. One of whom being new coach Mick Wadsworth who has certainly made an impression amongst the Hartlepool ranks.
Hartlepool born and ex Sunderland defender Peter Hartley was full of praise for the new coach: “You can tell that he has been places and worked with some top players just by the way he speaks to you," he said.
"It really is different class what we're doing at the moment on the training field, even compared with some of the work we were doing at Sunderland in all honesty.”
He continued: "I've got a good feeling going in to the season and I think we can have a really good year."
Other new faces, Goalkeeper Andy Rafferty and defender Evan Horwood will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s opener. Hartlepool have also signed trialist Paul Murray one a short term contract following his release from League Two’s Shrewsbury Town.
Pools boss Chris Turner also hopes to sign trialist Fabian Yantorno pending international clearance after impressing in pre-season.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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