MICK Wadsworth today reflected on a “perfect” Dutch tour as Hartlepool United returned to the UK.
The Pools squad have spent the past six days stepping up their pre-season preparations at their Heiloo base in northern Holland.
They arrive back in the North-East with an unbeaten record, Saturday’s 2-0 win over AGOVV Apeldoorn followed by Monday night’s 2-2 draw with FC Den Bosch.
New signing Colin Nish got his blue-and-white goals account up and running with a brace in the second game, while born-again Adam Boyd netted a confidence-boosting opener at the weekend.
The trip has also seen the much-anticipated debut of marquee summer signing Nobby Solano and the integration of three young professionals – Jordan Richards, Callum Hassan and Jordan Mellish – into the senior squad.
On the evidence of the two matches fitness levels appear better than this time 12 months ago, a notion supported by Wadsworth and his players.
And, speaking to SportMail before boarding the flight home, the first-team coach said he had taken a great deal from the continental stay.
“It’s been absolutely terrific, I must say,” reflected Wadsworth.
“Everything has been perfect and the people here could not have been more welcoming.
“I think the lads have thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well and we’ve taken an awful lot from the trip.
“The two matches served their purpose in different ways.
“We had to do a lot of chasing in the first game and the lads got a bit of a sweat on in the heat, which was good.
“We managed to give everyone pretty much a half and it was nice to get a couple of cracking goals.
“We scored two very well-worked goals again in the second game against Den Bosch, which was against better opposition.
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“We let ourselves down a little bit after half-time and allowed them back into it but I was pleased with the response after that.
“We made less changes and you could see a few of the lads were feeling it a little bit, but again that’s a good thing.
“In training as well we’ve worked them hard because that is what this time of year is all about.”
“It’s also been a great chance for the new lads to get to know the group and they’ve settled in well.
“Nobby is certainly a bit of a character and the lads have taken to him very well.”
Meanwhile, Wadsworth has been kept right up to date with the “incredible” surge in season-ticket sales back at The Vic.
Pools are now just x tickets short of smashing the 4,000 barrier, at which point prices will drop to £100.
And he added: “What terrific news it was to hear of Monday’s sales, nearly 300 in one day is incredible.
“The prospect of playing in front of 4,000 fans is a very exciting one and we’re eternally grateful to the supporters for their backing.”