Craig Hignett has signed best players for Hartlepool United

Padraig Amond
Padraig Amond
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Hartlepool United’s hopes for promotion have been strengthened by signing the best three players from the National League.

That is the view of manager Craig Hignett after returning to Grimby Town for the second time inside five days to sign Padraig Amond.

If you look at who I’ve signed, all three might be National League players, but I’ve signed the very best

CRAIG HIGNETT

Pools signed the leading scorer in English football’s fifth tier on a free transfer, beating off a number of clubs chasing the 37-goal striker.

Amond joins his old Mariners team-mate, defender Toto Nsiala, who signed for Pools last Thursday.

Throw in goal-scoring midfielder Nicky Deverdics into the mix and Hignett has had no qualms about looking down i n order to look up and he’s convinced he’s got the right men.

“If you look at who I’ve signed, all three might be National League players, but I’ve signed the very best,” he told SportMail. “Podge [Amond] is the top goalscorer, a lot of people were after him.

“Toto was rated as the best defender in the Conference.

“And Nicky? Everyone you speak to will tell you was the best midfielder.

“They have all done something noteworthy – Podge and Toto have won promotion and have been to Wembley and Nicky has been marked down as the best in his position.

“They’ve all had success and have the mentality that they want more and want it here.

“All three have been handpicked and they can all play and I will supplement them with players who have played higher.

“I still have a couple of players in mind I intend to sign.”

To have prised Amond away from Blundell Park, where he became a folk hero after 37 goals is a stunning piece of work by Hignett and club owners, JPNG.

The 28-year-old fired the Mariners to Wembley twice, in the Vanarama League play-off final, where they beat Forest Green 3-1, the big surprise being the Irishman did NOT score.

Grimsby also reach the FA Trophy final but there was no league and cup double as they lost to Halifax 1-0.

Amond averaged a goal every four games during his time in Lancashire, with Accrington and Morecambe, though that was priimarily out on the right – at Blundell park he was the central forward.

“To get someone who scores 30-odd goals in the National League is brilliant,” said Hignett.

“I think that division is on a par with our league, maybe apart from the bottom-end teams.

“But I think you tend to see the sides who come up from the National League do well in League Two, look at Bristol Rovers, who have just gone into League One.

“There is no reason why Podge can’t come and score goals in League Two, I’m convinced he will, that’s why we’ve gone all out for him.

“I’m thrilled to have got him.”