SportMail takes a look at how Craig Hignett’s summer recruits for Hartlepool United are shaping up in the early stages of the season

Pools newcomers Nicky Deverdics (left) and Lewis Alessandra (right) battle Scunthorpe
Pools newcomers Nicky Deverdics (left) and Lewis Alessandra (right) battle Scunthorpe

With the 2016-17 season now three weeks old, SportMail takes a look at how some of Craig Hignett’s summer recruits are shaping up in the early stages of the season.

While Hignett didn’t make sweeping changes over the summer, he was able to put his own stamp on the squad with several new additions.

And they have made an impact in the opening five games, with the vast majority regulars in Hignett’s squads so far.

Here, we analyse their contributions so far and what else they may be able to offer during the rest of the campaign:

Nicky Deverdics

Having been a star performer in the National League last season, midfielder Deverdics joined Pools after turning down a new deal at Dover Athletic.

Having netted 25 goals in 84 appearances at the Crabble Athletic Ground, the attack-minded midfielder was in high-demand with Hignett clearly convincing him of the ambition he has for Pools.

Having been in and out of the side in the early weeks of the season, Deverdics will be looking to cement his starting place in the coming months.

He has shown some early glimpses of his quality with his performance at Crewe Alexandra particularly encouraging – Deverdics clipping balls into the wide areas and driving the team forward.

The next steps for the ex-Newcastle United man will be to add some goals and assists to the Pools side and given his previous record, that probably won’t take too long.

Toto Nsiala

Former Everton defender Nsiala arrived at the Northern Gas and Power Stadium in June and has quickly established himself as a key member of Hignett’s side.

Nsiala won promotion to League Two with Grimsby Town last season, but he turned down the chance to stay with the Mariners to move north.

The powerful centre back has previous experience of this division having played for Accrington Stanley between 2012 and 2014, and Pools fans will be hoping this will help him deal with League Two’s forward players.

It’s been a difficult start for the Congolese defender so far though, with an injury to Rob Jones meaning his partner at the back has been changed regularly.

Should Nsiala have sufficient opportunity to gel with Jones or Matthew Bates in the centre of defence, it should see Pools becoming a lot tighter at the back.

Padraig Amond

Another arrival from Grimsby Town, it was hoped Amond would be a goal-scoring striker to partner the prolific Billy Paynter.

And he certainly seemed to fit the mould, with 49 goals in last two seasons a terrific return from the Irishman.

Thirty of those goals came for the Mariners en route to promotion last year and, if he can net close to that number this season, he’ll become a firm fans’ favourite in the north east.

He’s already started to endear himself to the Pools faithful with his energetic displays and hard-work, and has proven he can offer a different dimension to target man Paynter.

Goals have started to follow, with the striker bagging his first goal in the draw at Crewe Alexandra.

Now Amond needs to start finding the back of the net consistently and if he develop the blossoming partnership with Paynter, he may turn out to be one of the signings of the summer.

Lewis Alessandra

Alessandra has played in the lower levels of the Football League for all of his career and is well-versed in League Two football.

His experience of this division could be vital for Pools this year after his summer arrival from Rochdale.

The striker, who Hignett has mainly deployed out wide so far, has played a part in all of Pools’ opening games and is starting to make an impression.

His strike record is respectable, netting 63 times in 215 games at seven different clubs, but Alessandra offers more than goals.

While his performances may not catch the eye as much as his livewire team mate Nathan Thomas, Alessandra grafts away to try and create chances.

In a 4-4-2 system at Crewe he was perhaps restricted, but when Hignett reverted to a 4-3-3 he came into his element as he could fully embrace his attacking role.

Similarly to Amond, all that Alessandra needs to do now is start regularly providing assists and goals.