Jake Carroll believes Hartlepool United have a “great chance” of challenging for promotion – now the players are finally getting their heads around the 3-5-2 formation.
The 23-year-old will start the season in the left wing-back role, with boss Ronnie Moore persisting with the formation ahead of the League Two opener against Morecambe on August 8.
And Carroll has high hopes the new-look Pools squad will enjoy a successful season.
Carroll said: “Judging by the way pre-season has gone and the players that have come in, I think we have a great chance of challenging [for promotion], definitely.
“Ronnie Moore being manager was one of the main reasons I came here and I knew that Ronnie was ultra keen to get me.
“That was the main factor but I did my research on the club, the way Ronnie came in and took the club from being doomed to where they are now – it is a club on the way up.”
Carroll joined Pools in the summer after being released by Huddersfield Town at the end of the 2014-15 campaign following a two-year stay with The Terriers.
His pace – and eye for a goal – will be key to the way Moore wants his side to play this campaign.
“First and foremost the job of a defender is to defend,” added Carroll.
“But I do always look to get involved in the attacks, whether that’s overlapping or going inside.
“I work on my speed and strength a lot, hopefully that comes into games and the fans will get to see it.”
The squad have been worked hard on the training ground and while they suffered back-to-back defeats to Scunthorpe United and Gateshead, Carroll believes the system is finally clicking with the squad.
Carroll, who recovered from flu to play in the 3-0 win over Dunston, added: “The 3-5-2 formation is foreign to a lot of us.
“But now we have worked on it properly, the lads are seeing it does work and we saw that in the win over Dunston.
“I have played it before but it can be difficult to adjust to it but we are starting to get the hang of it.
“I usually get one goal a season, now I have three already in pre-season,” added Carroll, who said the squad is “itching” for the start of the new season after a busy pre-season programme.
Next up for Pools is the friendly visit of League One side Chesterfield to Victoria Park tomorrow (KO 3pm).
London-born Carroll added: “I love it here, to come into a dressing room with a close bunch is great.
“Saturday is another big game for us, another tough test to see how we do.”
Carroll was brought up near Dublin where he made his name with St Patrick’s Athletic for whom he gained experience in the Europa League in 2012 before joining Huddersfield.