Hartlepool United looking sharp ahead of opening pre-season friendly at Northern League neighbours
'Sharp' Hartlepool United are set for their first taste of pre-season action.
Craig Hignett will take a squad of 22 players to Bedford Terrace for tomorrow’s friendly with Billingham Town (kick-off 3pm).
The Pools boss says that he will play a different XI in each half as fans get the chance to see summer signings Lewis Alessandra, Padraig Amond, Nicky Deverdics and Toto Nsalia for the first time.
Hignett wants to see his players “enjoy themselves” and “get a sweat on”.
The Pools chief has done a lot of ball work already at the Maiden Castle training ground over the last week and a half and hopes his players feel the benefit of that tomorrow.
“We’ve had the ball out from day one,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of ball work – we’ve had two sessions almost every day.
“It’s been great to see the lads look so sharp so early.
“I’m really pleased with the players, but especially happy with how the new boys have integrated.
“Everyone has come back really buzzing.
“I want the lads to go out and play tomorrow, enjoy themselves and see what they can get out of it.
“It’s the first game of pre-season so I’m not expecting them to be pulling up any trees.
“But I know the players will approach the match properly and not take it lightly.
“There will be two teams – I will change all the players at half-time.
“All the lads will get 45 minutes each, hopefully get a sweat on and have a good afternoon.”
Hignett plans to include two trialists at some stage against the Northern League Second Division outfit, though neither will be travelling with Pools to Tenerife the following day for the club’s training camp.
The Pools manager reports an almost total clean bill of health in his squad.
There are only two absentees tomorrow – ex-Sunderland reserve-team defender Scott Harrison and forward Connor Smith.
Harrison, though released back in May, has been made welcome back at the Durham training HQ for pre-season.
The 22-year-old is recovering from a foot injury sustained towards the end of last season while his fellow Teessider, Smith, has a damaged ankle.
“Scott’s not ready yet to play,” added Hignett. “Connor has hurt his ankle but is not far off.
“Other than those lads, everyone’s fine.”
Admission is £5 (adults) and £3 (concessions), while under-16s will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
There is limited parking on the streets outside the ground, but Town are opening the field adjacent to the ground where there will be ample free parking.