SCOTT Flinders will tomorrow be reunited with the “father figure” he attributes to having had a major influence on his career.
Former Pools goalkeeping coach Gary Walsh joined Hull City midway through last season, following old Middlesbrough team-mate Nick Barmby to the KC Stadium.
But the 44-year-old will be back at Victoria Park for the first time this weekend, and, for Flinders, it will be a special reunion with the ex-Manchester United stopper.
“Gary was like a father figure with me,” the Pools No.1 told SportMail ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against The Tigers.
“I could talk to him about things away from football and we had a very close relationship.
“He is a great bloke and a great coach as well.
“I enjoyed every minute working with him and I’d like to think he’s had a big influence on my game.
“I definitely think I’ve improved since coming to Hartlepool and Gary played a part in that.
“I was disappointed to see him leave but that’s football and I’m grateful for the time I had with him.”
Flinders – arguably the best goalkeeper in League One – has been in inspired form during pre-season.
He missed the first two matches in Holland because of a thigh strain but was back between the posts for last Friday’s visit of Sunderland, the 26-year-old duly emerging with man-of-the-match plaudits following a 1-0 win.
He was again a reassuring presence during Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough and is aiming to take his impressive performance into the new season.
Flinders missed just one game last term – because of suspension – and he is hoping for another successful campaign this time around, on both a personal and team front.
“Having had a bad injury with my thumb the season before the target was to come in and play every game last year,” he said.
“If I hadn’t been sent off then I would have done, but the most important thing was to stay clear of injury, which I did.
“I was happy with how I played on the whole, but there are still areas I can improve.”
He went on: “On a team level we saw over last season where we lacked, and that was goals.
“If we can improve on that this season then there’s no reason why we can’t be a Carlisle type who challenged up there last year.
“We really believe we can do that.”