CONFIDENT Jonathan Franks believes Hartlepool United will benefit from last season’s poor campaign and is even eyeing promotion this time round.
The 2013-14 campaign had just about everything for Pools, a poor start, an unbeaten Autumn run, mid season hopes of a play-off finish before an awful run of six-straight defeats in the final few weeks saw the club flirt with relegation.
It ended with a 19th place finish and the summer months have seen Andy Monkhouse, Simon Walton, James Poole and Antony Sweeney all leave with Matthew Bates, Stuart Parnaby and now Tommy Miller brought in to replace them.
Forward Franks, who has been in fine form during pre-season, believes the highs and lows of last season and the experienced summer recruits can only benefit Colin Cooper’s squad.
Indeed, the 24-year-old sees no reason why they cannot compete at the right end of the table this time round.
Franks told SportMail: “We want to improve on last season and go for promotion - whether that be through the play-offs or whatever.
“Every team wants to get promoted and I think this year we have a realistic chance of doing that.
“We have had a year of change really at the club and again this summer but we have a good squad and I think we will benefit from the experience of last year.
“We have some good young players and have brought in some experienced players - people who have been around the block - and hopefully there will be some more.
“It is also important to have players that have done it at this level as well. It is always nice to have a few new faces and obviously the manager is trying to add to that.
“Everyone is welcome here - all we ask is they put 100 per cent effort in and hopefully their ability will shine through.”
During pre-season Stockton-born Franks has netted twice against Billingham Town, the winner against Bradford Park Avenue and another brace in Monday night’s 4-1 win away to Spennymoor Town.
As a result, Franks’ confidence levels are sky high as he goes into the new season, starting with Stevenage away on Saturday.
Franks told SportMail: “I am happy with my pre-season form and have managed to get a few goals and minutes under my belt.
“First of all you want to get into the team, then you want to put a good performance in and goals will also help.
“I didn’t think I was going to score against Spennymoor, having missed a couple of easier chances.
“I thought “this isn’t going to be my night” but then I managed to find my shooting boots and get two, which was pleasing.
“If I had scored in the Sunderland and Middlesbrough matches that would have further helped my cause.
“I came off the bench in those games and would have liked to have gotten a goal against either one of them.”
Training at the club’s Maiden Castle base has been tough for the players, according to Franks but he believes it will all stand them in good stead in the weeks and months ahead.
Franks added: “The last few weeks have been tough but enjoyable at the same time and everyone has stuck together and been encouraging and helped to drive each other on to the next level.
“We are set up nicely for Stevenage and ready for whatever challenges they throw at us on Saturday.
“Stevenage will be saying the same things to their players but we know what to expect from this league.
“Anything can happen though on the first day of the season but we have to go down there with the right mind set and look to get all three points.
“It has been a busy last few weeks and in the opening couple of weeks we are playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday so it will be busy couple of weeks.
“But we are ready for that and we just have to stick together and look to put a performance in.”