JORDAN Richards intends to play more games and win more points when he sets off on his fourth season as a professional.
The Sunderland-born Hartlepool United defender has signed a new contract at Victoria Park and cannot wait for the 2014-15 campaign to come around – after a deserved summer holiday.
Richards was the first of the squad to put pen to paper to a deal following the announcement of Colin Cooper’s retained list on Tuesday night.
“All I wanted to do as soon as the gaffer said he wanted to offer me a new deal was to get it signed,” smiled the 21-year-old Wearsider.
“He said it was a reward for the way I played and the way I conducted myself this season.
“I was just so happy that he wanted me and that I was in his plans.
“He said Pools needed players like me, people who want to be at the club and want to do well at the club.
“I have been here since I was 10 and been a pro for the last three seasons. I want to play more than I did this season.
“This time last year, my aim was to play more games than in the previous season.
“I played 20 matches this year and I will be looking to better that in 2014-15.
“I want to be part of something good here.
“I think we are capable of pushing on for promotion and getting Hartlepool back where we should be – in League One.
“I know we had a bad season when we were relegated last year,but I think we can get back to being a League One club.”
Richards has produced some good form, but has seen his opportunities limited by impressive summer signing Michael Duckworth.
“I got to play a bit when Michael was unfortunate to be injured,” added Richards. “I think I played pretty well in that four or five-match run we had around the time of Southend away and Bristol Rovers at home.”
Richards has double cause for celebration.
Not only has he signed a new contact to stay at a club he’s spent half his young life at, his home-town team are staying in the Premier League – against the odds.
His beloved Sunderland looked doomed to drop into the Championship just four games ago, only to produce a stunning run of form.
“They have come good at the right time,” said the nephew of ex-Sunderland star Michael Gray. “Connor Wickham has been a revelation and his form has pulled them out of trouble.
“Everyone wrote them off when they were seven points adrift at the bottom.
“Gus Poyet has done a really good job.”