HARTLEPOOL United kick off their League Two campaign at Rochdale three weeks tomorrow – and Colin Cooper says he is ready to “demand more” from his players.
The Pools squad have been back in training for just over two weeks now, playing a pair of friendlies in Holland during that time.
They are set to enjoy a full-scale practice match this weekend to compensate for no friendly fixture having been arranged.
Their introduction to life under Cooper has been gradual, an initial presentation followed by some intensive fitness work at Maiden Castle and then double sessions in the Netherlands.
But the new boss is again ready to step up his demands with the season closing in.
“I couldn’t have asked more from the lads at this moment,” he said, “But I will be demanding more from them as we go on.
“Everything we do is considered and is geared towards the new season.
“That means stepping things up the closer we get and I’ll be looking for more from them.
“They know that and I’ve no doubt they’ll deliver based on what I’ve seen so far.
“It is the attitude of the lads which has pleased me most, be that the young boys or the older ones.
“We’ve got a decent mix in there and they actually inspire each other in what they do.
“But there is a lot of hard work ahead of us and the boys know that.”
For Cooper, this pre-season marks his first as a football manager.
And it is a challenge he is relishing.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far - within two weeks we already had the team into Europe,” he joked.
“But getting ready for a football match is great.
“Myself and Craig (Hignett) are loving what we’re doing.
“If we can make every player a little bit better at something every day then that’s what you look for.
“We’re putting absolutely everything we’ve got into this and so far we’re very much enjoying it.”