MICHAEL Woods is determined to make the most of his “second chance” in football.
The 24-year-old signed for Hartlepool United in the summer after spending last season at non-league Harrogate Town after falling down the league pyramid.
Woods was highly-rated as a youngster, coming through the ranks at Leeds United before sealing a move to Chelsea but his career stalled through injury and loss of form.
Ex-Pools boss Colin Cooper signed the midfielder in the summer and he is now enjoying a spell in the first team under caretaker boss Sam Collins.
Woods told SportMail: “This is my second chance.
“There have been some very tough times in recent years, times when you are on and off an injury bed for three or four years and when it is operation after operation it is tough.
“You do question yourself at times and question whether you can come back and do it.
“Because of that I will always be grateful to Colin (Cooper) for giving me the opportunity to come back into the Football League.
“It is now up to me to keep the shirt and look to build on the win on Saturday with a few more.”
Pools climbed off the bottom of the Football League with a 2-1 win over Exeter City at St James Park, thanks to Woods’ first goal for the club and a fine finish from top-scorer Charlie Wyke.
Woods admitted it has been a frustrating start given his lack of first team matches, Exeter was only his fourth of the season.
But he is flourishing in the new-look Pools side, playing a 4-3-3 formation under Collins.
Woods said: “This formation suits my game.
“Last Tuesday night against Sheffield United we didn’t get the result we wanted but we have a youthful side that can counter well with the two full-backs that get up and down.
“I am still quite young and feel there is a lot to give.
“Sam has given me the chance of a run in the side and you can see the hunger from the young lads.
“If you look at the bench on Saturday we had quite a strong bench.
“That competition for places will help and we now need to build some momentum.
“There is a great mix of youth and experience in the squad.”
The highly-rated midfielder was much sought after as a youngster and played for Leeds United and Chelsea
Aged 16, his transfer to Chelsea became embroiled in a High Court battle, with the Blues eventually paying Leeds £5million for Woods and team-mate Tom Taiwo.
Within a year he had seriously injured his knee before dislocating his ankle on his return and went onto to have spells at Notts County, Yeovil, Doncaster and Harrogate.
Woods’ former boss Cooper was adamant he would go onto become a star for Hartlepool and the signs are promising so far.
“The club is brilliant and I am delighted to be here,” added York-born Woods.
“My injury problems have been well documented but last year I managed to get a full season under my belt.
“Now, I just want to kick-on.”