Matthew Bates says Hartlepool United‘s new squad have ‘massive potential’ to reach League Two’s higher echelons.

Matthew Bates in action for Hartlepool United
Matthew Bates in action for Hartlepool United
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Matthew Bates has hailed the “massive potential” of Hartlepool United.

The defender is one of the key men in the Pools squad as boss Craig Hignett looks to move the club up from their 16th finish of last season into League Two’s higher echelons.

We have massive potential. It is a new season with a new squad of players

Matthew Bates

After flirting with the relegation zone and struggling for goals, Pools did turn things around.

“We have massive potential,” said the 29-year-old who was set to be at the heart of the defence for today’s friendly at Livingston.

“It is a new season with a new squad of players,” said Bates.

“But what the gaffer showed last season and how he turned it around and brought us together was great.

“He got us back up the table and we did well.

“As players, that gives you a lot of confidence going into the new season.”

Hignett has shopped wisely in the summer, bringing in three goal threats, forwards Padraig Amond and Lewis Alessandra plus midfielder Nicky Deverdics.

He also replaced last season’s excellent loan signing, Adam Jackson, with the giant Grimsby defender Toto Nsisla.

They will take time to find their feet but all four look good acquisitions.

Their addition to the side which put in a great spring run should make Pools even better.

“It is still early doors and time will tell to see if the players gel for the team,” Bates told SportMail.

The former Middlesbrough star looks to have come back in good nick.

He played the first half at Billingham Town and had 63 minutes in midweek against Sunderland.

And he says he is looking forward to the League Two programme, which kicks off against Colchester on Saturday, August 6.

“I was pleased with my own form last season,” he commented.

“But I still think I can do better. I want to build on last year this coming season.

“I am looking forward to it, we are in the middle of a long pre-season to try and get as fit as possible and to try and stay fit throughout the whole season.

“That has proved hard for me over the years but that is the idea, anyway.”