Hartlepool United midfielder Michael Woods eager to start repaying boss Ronnie Moore’s faith

Michael Woods

Michael Woods

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Michael Woods is looking ahead to making the first instalment in paying back Ronnie Moore for the faith he showed in him.

And it could come as early as tonight when Hartlepool United start their friendly programme at Billingham Town (kick-off 7pm).

That Woods is even running now is incredible, let alone having a chance of featuring at some point in the match against the Northern League outfit.

The midfielder has not played since suffering a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula in the 1-0 win over Wimbledon at the end of February.

It is testament to his work ethic and the expertise of head physio Ian Gallagher that he is fit to pull on a pair of boots already.

Woods, a Colin Cooper signing last summer, was showing his best form under Moore when his injury came.

“When the gaffer took over, he was great, he showed a lot of faith in me,” Woods said.

“I think everyone likes to be backed and if you have that confidence from your manager you want to repay him.

“Hopefully, I can now kick on and try to rediscover that form as quickly as possible and help us get results.”

Woods has had something of a long and lonely summer as he got himself back on his feet and then back to fitness.

And he said there was no doubts about carrying on, despite the ankle and leg breaks following on from two serious knee issues.

“I’ve had three bad injuries now and I hope that will be my last,” he said.

“I am not very good at anything else to be honest, it’s football or nothing.

“It’s all I ever really wanted to do so there was no question about me trying to do everything I could to get back.”

That road back has been tackled alone and with Gallagher before the club returned to pre-season training three Mondays ago.

And the flogging the players have received on the training ground felt akin to a lottery win for Woods.

“For about a month before pre-season’s first day I was itching to get back involved with the lads,” he explained.

“A lot of time has been spent on my own over the summer doing re-hab and many lonely hours in the gym.

“When you are back out with the lads it does all feel worth it.

“If you asked the lads if they enjoy all the running in pre-season and they answered honestly, they’d probably say no.

“It’s something all footballers have to go through and it’s all fitness in the bank.

“But once the games start there will be a real buzz.”

Woods had a run-out when the squad had an in-house game at their Army camp last Thursday and could feature this evening as Pools begin the countdown to the League Two clash with Morecambe at Victoria Park on August 8.

“To be in with a chance of being able to start the season is a huge boost,” said the 25-year-old.

“There is a lot of competition for places, the gaffer has brought in a lot of signings and there is certainly more depth to the squad than last year.

“Everyone is grafting to try to get into that starting XI.”

Graft has been a watchword around the Vic over the last two weeks.

And Woods says there was never a chance he would not do all the same manoeuvres as his team-mates at Catterick, even though Gallagher had encouraged him to take breaks from certain tasks.

“You don’t want to feel like you are letting anyone down,” he said. “I think if you are going to improve you need to push yourself.

“If I do manage to make the start of the season I want to look back and say I’ve done everything the lads have done.

“And it’s gone great. The graft has been hard but all the lads have stuck together.

“Talking to some of the Army’s PT lads, they said it’s some of the best camaraderie they’ve seen.

“That can only hold us in good stead for the season.”