HARTLEPOOL United plan to start the season with a bang, writes ROY KELLY.
That is the aim of Jack Baldwin as Pools look forward to make an instant return to League One.
Pools will start their first season in the bottom tier in English football for seven years at Rochdale, but Baldwin is determined their stay is temporary.
The fixture computer has given Colin Cooper’s team three away days in August, with only Southend – in the new manager’s home debut on the 10th – and Fleetwood visiting Victoria Park.
But Baldwin cannot wait to get started and the gifted teenager has only two things on his mind: points and promotion. “It’s nice to see the fixtures out and know who we’re going to be up against,” said the 19-year-old.
“The aim will be to get off to a flying start – it would be great if we could pick up maximum points, or near to maximum points in the first weeks of the season.”
The pain of relegation has been replaced by a positive mental attitude that Pools can win an immediate promotion, just like they did the last time they dropped into League Two.
Baldwin displayed some classy performances on the park last season and is now showing tremendous character off it. While possessing a respectful attitude towards the club’s rivals, he believes Pools should be aiming high.
“We need to try to bounce back into League One as soon as we can,” said Baldwin.
If the bookies are to be believed, Pools will finish one place outside the promotion places in eighth.
Britain’s bookmakers have seven clubs with lower odds, with Portsmouth and Chesterfield heading their list. Pools host Pompey on Saturday, November 30, with the return match at Fratton Park – where John Hughes’s side won 3-1 last season – coming up on April 5.
A trip to Chesterfield, where Pools suffered a humiliating 6-1 FA Cup exit last November, kicks off a busy festive period on Boxing Day.
Pools are also away on Sunday, December 29, when they make their first-ever visit to Morecambe.
Pools are at home on New Year’s Day, the visit of fellow relegated outfit Bury ending a hectic spell of three games in seven days.
And for the first time since they last won promotion, under Danny Wilson, in 2007, Pools get to finish the season at Victoria Park, with Exeter City making the long trip north on Saturday, May 3.