North-EAst signings vital to Hartlepool United says boss Craig Harrison

Conor Newton on the ball for Pools against Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
Conor Newton on the ball for Pools against Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID

Craig Harrison believes he has the right characters as well as the right footballers at Hartlepool United.

Harrison takes the new-look Pools squad to St Johnstone tomorrow or the club’s fifth friendly as they build up to the National League season (kick-off 2pm).

The lads showed they were prepared to run through brick walls for each other

CRAIG HARRISON

The boss has brought in eight new signings and says he has seen the squad come together on the training field and on the pitch.

And while Pools have lost their last two outings 2-1, he says the display against Sunderland in midweek ticked all the boxes in terms of the squad’s development.

“Recruitment-wise, I was looking to get as many lads from the area in as possible,” he said. “They understand the culture of the North-East, how the people here love their football and what they demand of their players.

“All bar two, I think, knew each other or have played with each other before.

“A good group has formed – the lads who were already here are good lads. Everyone has taken to each other brilliantly.

“You look at Tuesday night – the lads showed they were prepared to run through brick walls for each other.

“I’m from the North-East and I know the people up here will accept a lot of things if you do that.”

Having said that, Harrison has already made it plain he will not accept anything less than 100%, whether his players are on the field or on the training pitch.

The 39-year-old will be challenging his squad to improve all the time and will be looking to see that improvement continue over the next eight days when Pools pull down the curtain on their pre-season programme.

Pools visit Scottish Premier outfit St Johnstone tomorrow before hosting a Middlesbrough XI next Friday and round off matters at Whitley Bay a week tomorrow.

“St Johnstone are a good side,” said Harrison. “They have played in the Europa Cup qualifier at the end of last month so they’ve been back in weeks.

“I spoke to [boss] Tommy Wright a while ago – they’ve probably been at it six weeks-plus so they will have good fitness levels.

“It will be a really good test for us but that’s what we want.

“Don’t get me wrong, the matches against the Billingham Towns and Dunstons of this world were great, it was brilliant to get everyone together.

“But games like, Sunderland, St Johnstone, Middlesbrough are great.

“The Middlesbrough Under 23 game will be fantastic for us – Boro will be fit, their lads trying to show Garry Monk they should be in the first team, there will probably be squad lads playing as well.

“It’s a run of three very good friendlies which will get us ready for the season.”