Gateshead striker Paul Blackett is ready for the new National League season (Photo: Charles Waugh)
The hardworking forward managed to hit double figures last season despite seeing his impact on the Heed’s National League North title win hampered by injuries during the campaign.
Competition for places at the top end of the pitch had been reduced by the departures of top goalscorer Macaulay Langstaff and fellow frontman Cedwyn Scott to Notts County over the last six weeks.
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Blackett has already shown his willingness to fight for the number nine shirt after scoring in his side’s pre-season friendly against Newcastle United and he set up a goal for Dan Ward in Tuesday’s defeat at Dunston UTS.
The striker has insisted he is ready to make up for lost time this season and is looking to be fit and firing for the opening day visit to Dagenham and Redbridge.
He told the Echo: “Last year I struggled with injuries and I think pre-season is about getting myself ready and making sure I don’t miss as many games or training sessions during the season.
“I want to get all of the minutes I can and take that into the first game of the season.
“Hopefully, I will be first choice here because that is my aim for the season. I want to be the club’s number nine and I know I have players challenging.
“That will only push me further and I want to play my part in pushing those other players further because that means we are all improving.
“That competition is healthy and having that challenge is all positive because it will bring out the best in all of us.”
Plying his trade in non-league’s top tier will be a new experience for Blackett.
After playing in the Northern League with Heaton Stannington, the striker has taken well to life at Gateshead over the last three years and found the net on a regular basis during loan spells at Whitby Town and Blyth Spartans.
He revealed the confidence he has in his own ability as he prepares to take on the likes of Wrexham, Oldham Athletic and Scunthorpe United in the National League this season.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove to the management,” explained Blackett.
“They’ve seen enough of me here, they know what I am about. It’s just down to me keeping fit and making sure I am ready to do the job they need me to do.
“I have played against players at this level and players at a higher level and I have the confidence in myself to do that over a season.
“If I am playing, I am confident I can get the goals we need to achieve what we want this season.
“You have to relish the challenge of proving what we can do at this level.”
Gateshead’s next pre-season friendly takes them to former National League North rivals Spennymoor Town on Saturday afternoon before they visit Northern Premier League neighbours Hebburn Town on Tuesday night.