Paynter targets top-seven finish for Pools next season

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Billy Paynter insists Hartlepool United must be targeting the top seven next season.

The skipper and leading scorer admits Pools “under-achieved” this year, adding that it was time to “kick on”.

Pools ended the programme 16th, which must be viewed as a fair achievement given they were uncomfortably close to the relegation zone at the start of March.

“We can’t be happy with 16th, I’m not happy with 16th,” said the 15-goal striker.

“When you are near the bottom two you are under pressure, but when we got away from there, we were a different team.

“The season before the club survived that was great for Hartlepool from where the team was.

“This time we were 16th but, for me, we should be doing better.

“Now it’s time to kick on.”

Paynter praised manager Craig Hignett for the way he turned around the team’s form.

However, he said the players must take responsibility for the position they found themselves in.

“We under-achieved,” said the 31-year-old who has signed a contract extension for the 2016-17 campaign.

“Our start was good and you that from us in March, but the middle bit wasn’t good enough.

“How can the same group of lads go from that to seven matches unbeaten?”

Paynter believes Hignett brought out the best in the players.

“The new manager has come in and it’s given us a kick up the backside,” said the Scouser who believes the boss will now enhance the current squad with new signings.

“The gaffer has had almost half a season to get to know the players but he’ll now be looking to bring in his own players.

“It will be brighter for Hartlepool next season.”