Hignett ready to make tough choices for Pools’ big opener against Colchester

Billy Paynter (left) and Nathan Thomas model the new Hartlepool United away kit, sponsored by Northern Gas and Power
Billy Paynter (left) and Nathan Thomas model the new Hartlepool United away kit, sponsored by Northern Gas and Power
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Craig Hignett says he is not afraid to make some tough decisions for Saturday’s League Two opener against Colchester United.

The Hartlepool United boss has selection dilemmas, especially up front and in midfield, ahead of the visit of the U’s to the newly-named Northern Gas and Power Stadium.

Hignett admitted on Monday how demanding a task he faces in the middle of the park.

There are going to be some disappointed players when he comes to announce his team early on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s part and parcel of the job,” he said.

“The team maybe did pick itself to a point last season, but it doesn’t now and it doesn’t matter who you are.

“Every player has to earn the right to wear the shirt.

“I have real competition for places and that’s exactly what I want.”

Up front, it would appear, four players are chasing three spots, in alphabetical order, Lewis Alessandra, Padraig Amond, Billy Paynter and Nathan Thomas.

Midfield is even more congested in the selection stakes in the shape of the two Nickys, Deverdics and Featherstone, Lewis Hawkins, Josh Laurent and Michael Woods.

Hignett’s starting XI is likely to be dictated to, or certainly based on, by what system he employs.

The 4-3-3 was a favoured formation last term though he has operated a diamond with Paynter and Amond furthest forward with Alessandra just off them.

“It’s a decision for me to make,” he said.

“Do I play like we did on Saturday? Or do I go back to how we played last season?

“I don’t know yet is the honest answer, I’ll have a real think about it.

“But I know whichever way I play, the lads will know exactly what they are doing.”

For all the potential headaches and heartache, Hignett says whoever he picks in his first XI he knows he has seven subs who can make an impact.

“I have people on the bench that could make a real difference, that’s a great thing to have,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool United are in the pink – in more ways than one.

Pools have unveiled their new away for the new season and their new sonsors.

Captain Billy Paynter and Nathan Thomas model the new strip which will debut at Preston North End on Tuesday night in the EFL Cup first round tie.

Club partners Northern Gas & Power have their name emblazened on the front of the Nike jersey.

Pools wore pink away from home in 2014-15 before going green on their travels last season.