JACK Compton admits this has been one of the toughest pre-seasons he has experienced as a professional footballer, writes Richard Mennear.
The 25-year-old winger is confident though that it will leave the Hartlepool United camp in top condition for the Sky Bet League Two opener at Stevenage on August 9.
Cardiff-born Compton was speaking after playing an hour in Saturday’s 1-0 friendly win over Bradford Park Avenue at the Horsfall Stadium.
Pools won the game thanks to a 78th minute strike from substitute Jonathan Franks.
It was a good workout and certainly proved more of a test than their midweek trip to Billingham Town, which Pools ended up winning 9-0.
So far, so good then.
Not that the squad is getting carried away with their good form on the pitch, they are too busy putting in the hard yards off it on the training ground at Maiden Castle, in Durham.
“Pre-season has been really good so far,” Compton told SportMail.
“This year has definitely been harder than anything I have experienced in the past.
“We have done a lot of running in the first couple of weeks, as you’d expect, but also a lot of work with the ball.
“On the whole, it has been really positive.”
Saturday’s match against the Conference North side was Pools’ second in a week against non-league opposition but Compton sees every game as a different challenge.
That challenge will certainly crank up when first Sunderland (July 23) and then Middlesbrough (July 30) visit Victoria Park for friendly matches.
Compton added: “Bradford Park Avenue were a lot more difficult opposition than Billingham.
“They are a good passing side and try to play their football properly.
“In some parts of the game Bradford were better than us and that is something we need to address early on in pre-season.
“Hopefully, we can do that and take it into Wednesday’s match against Sunderland.
“There are some big friendly games coming up and they will be a higher level of test again but it is an exciting challenge because you are testing yourself against the very best.
“I’m looking forward to every game that we play, in order to be ready for Stevenage.”
Joining Compton in the starting line-up were the club’s two summer signings - defensive duo Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby, who has twice started in the holding midfield role.
And the popular pair have settled in well to life at Pools.
Compton told SportMail: “The new lads have slotted in really well and there is a lot of experience and quality that comes with those two.
“They have come from big clubs and that can only be a good thing for us.
“Stuart has started in midfield the past couple of games and it is good to have someone who can pick you out with a pass, especially for me as a winger.
“They have both been fantastic additions and settled in quickly.
“The week in Spain helped with that and they were mixing with the lads and joining in the jokes, the lot.”