DARREN Holden has become the latest player to sign a new deal AND target promotion back to League One.
The attacking-minded full-back will stay at Victoria Park for at least one more season after Pools took up the option of a contract extension.
Holden told SportMail he was thrilled to be staying and now wants to be the first-choice left-back and help the side win promotion.
The defender, from Chester-le-Street, first came to prominence for Pools as a youngster in League One, the then boss John Hughes giving him a starting spot.
This season, Holden has had to bide his time but, following injuries to Michael Duckworth and Neil Austin he has made the ‘number three slot’ his own.
Holden, who has played in all but 30 minutes of the last 20 games of the programme, said: “It was an easy decision to make to stay at Hartlepool.
“The gaffer called me into his office and said I’d played really well and he wanted me to come back next season and continue like that.
“I’d like to play every match if possible.
“It was hard at first not playing this season after being in the side last year, but I was happy to play the last 20 games.
“I’ve been pleased with my progression and when we come back for next season hopefully I can keep away from injuries and I will try to cement my place in the team.
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“Hopefully, we’ll be pushing for the top of the table as well.
“Everyone was disappointed how this season ended.
“We were doing well and we’d got ourselves into a good position but then that bad run killed us off.
“But next season if we can turn losses into draws and draws into wins then I think we can pick up the points we need to be up there.
“I believe we have the ability in the squad to be challenging for automatic promotion.”
Holden has now been at Pools for five years, having joined Pools in his mid-teens after being spotted at Gateshead College.
He is confident he can keep improving under the tutelage of manager Colin Cooper, a left-back himself in his younger years.
“Ever since he first came in he’s been helping me,” said the 20-year-old.
“He’s always telling me what I’m doing right or where I’m going wrong.
“The gaffer was a left-back himself so him coaching me can only help me in my career.”