Hartlepool United thinking big under boss Craig Hignett
Ambitious Craig Hignett has thought big for Hartlepool United ever since he returned to the club as manager.
And his opening plans of the summer match that, with Pools announcing a prestige pre-season training camp followed by a high-profile first home friendly.
Hignett will take Pools to Tenerife from July 10-17 when they will prepare for the season at the T3 complex which has previously been used by Man City and Liverpool.
The squad are scheduled to play two friendlies at their state-of-the-art HQ before returning to face Sunderland at Victoria Park on Wednesday, July 20.
Pools have swapped Catterick for La Caleta to gear up for a League Two promotion campaign. It is far removed from 2015 when then-boss Ronnie Moore let the Army put his squad through their paces.
That week in North Yorkshire did wonders for spirit as well as fitness, but Hignett says La Caleta is the right fit for his players.
“It’s a fantastic facility,” he said in an interview with the club’s website. “To get all the lads away for a week will aid the team spirit and allow us to do some really specific work.
“Hopefully we’ll have a few new faces in the group by then and to be in each other’s pockets for seven days will accelerate them getting to know one another.
“The place there really is top notch.
“The pitches are fantastic, they have everything you need on-site and I think it shows the direction the club is moving in that we’re going to places like this.”
This is the furthest Pools have ever ventured, eclipsing trips to Norway, the Netherlands and Spain.
But Hignett was at pains to point out that while the south-west corner of Tenerife is a nice part of the world, hard work will be involved at the HQ which has two grass pitches, a 3G artificial pitch as well as areas for goalkeeper training.
When the squad returns, fans will get the chance to measure progress when Pools host Sunderland.
Twelve months ago, Moore opted for steady summer tests rather than stellar opposition.
But his successor has plotted a different route and Sam Allardyce will bring his side to the Vic on Wednesday, July 20.
It is a Premier League date for Pools after Big Sam led the Black Cats to top-flight survival with a brilliant end-of-season run.
Pools were busy in the summer of 2015, with nine games for Moore and Sam Collins to prepare their new-look squad.
But League One was the highest standard of opposition, losing 4-0 to Scunthorpe and 1-0 at home to Chesterfield, with the rest of the programme a diet of non-league away trips.
It did not seem to do a great deal of harm as Pools began the season proper with four straight wins, including a 1-0 Capital One Cup shock at Fleetwood.
However, Hignett is thinking big and this will all be part of his intricate planning for the season which gets under way for real on Saturday, August 6.