THE summer arrival of Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby has helped “raise the bar” at Hartlepool United - according to two of their team-mates.
Bates and Parnaby are the only permanent signings to arrive at Sky Bet League Two Pools so far this pre-season, with manager Colin Cooper still working hard on bringing in further reinforcements ahead of next weekend’s campaign opener at Stevenage.
In the meantime, right-back Michael Duckworth and forward Jonathan Franks have both hailed the positive contribution the new signings are making on, and off the pitch.
Both Bates, 27, and Parnaby, 32, used to play for neighbours Middlesbrough and played in the Premier League and Europe while at the Riverside.
Since then, Bates has played for Bristol City and Bradford City, while Parnaby has also played for Birmingham City - where he collected a winner’s medal in the 2011 League Cup final at Wembley.
They bring a wealth of experience with them to Victoria Park.
And speaking ahead of this afternoon’s pre-season friendly match away at League One Bradford City, Duckworth and Franks said they have helped “raise the bar”.
Former Boro forward Franks, 24, told SportMail: “I know the pair of them and they have both fitted in really well.
“It can only be a positive to have players of their calibre at this football club.
“They both bring so much experience that it can only help raise the bar at the club.
“They have both been there and done it at Premier League and Championship level and now they find themselves at Hartlepool which can only be good for us.”
Bates enjoyed a short spell training with Pools at the start of last pre-season following his release from Bristol City but at the time Cooper was unable to make an offer for the defender and he joined League One side Bradford City.
Stockton-born Bates came through the ranks at Middlesbrough and was part of their FA Youth Cup winning side of 2003-04.
Both players have Premier League, Championship and European experience – Parnaby, a former England U21 international, having played in the UEFA Cup final with Boro.
Duckworth, who this week signed a new contract to commit his future to Hartlepool United, added: “Both Matthew and Stuart bring great experience to the squad, which helps.
“We have a young side but that experience is vitally important in the team to balance it out.
“They have both played well in pre-season and know what it is like to play at the highest level and I’m sure both will do well for Hartlepool.”
The 22-year-old added: “They are both experienced and have settled in well and the lads have really taken to them.
“Technically, they are both very good and both very fit and it will be good to get the season started.”
l Pools fans will be able to pay on the turnstiles for today’s game at Bradford City at The Coral Windows Stadium (KO 3pm).
The game will be the first team’s final main warm-up game ahead of the new season.
Prices have been set at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, with all tickets available on the turnstiles prior to kick-off.
l For a full-time whistle match report from Hartlepool United’s trip to Bradford City visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk