MICK Wadsworth believes that the Hartlepool United squad is in “far better shape” one year on from his arrival at the club.
It’s just over 12 months since the Yorkshireman was unveiled as Chris Turner’s first-team coach.
Still operating under the same title but now with complete charge of senior affairs, Wadsworth has this summer set about reshaping the Pools playing staff.
Out have gone no fewer than six first-team players with four coming in.
The boss invited the region’s press to the club’s Maiden Castle training base yesterday morning for a pre-season catch-up.
And from there he reflected on the past 12 months at Victoria Park.
“It’s just over a year since I came in and a lot has happened,” he admitted.
“I know the club a lot better and I know the players a lot better now.
“I’ve been able to take an overview of everything and I think we’re in far better shape.
“I’m happy with our business this summer and as far as I’m concerned that’s it all done.
“I’m delighted with the balance and depth of the squad.
“It’s been nice to get that business done early and to get the two major signings, Nobby Solano and Colin Nish, done without any problems.
“I don’t have to worry about going out looking for players now and I can work with the squad for the entire pre-season.”
Wadsworth is also happy with the blend of character within his group, adding: “They’re a good group and they get on with each other, that’s important.
“I think a lot of character came through last season and they’ve shown they’ve got a good team bond.
“There’s been a few changes and I like the character of the players which have come in.
“We’ve also made the squad younger and given room for those younger players to grow.
“But we’ve also got that older end – players such as Sam Collins, Andy Monkhouse, Steve Haslam and Neil Austin who are strong characters but are fair with it.
“They carry the team but below that you’ve got the lads in their mid-20s like Tony Sweeney, Gary Liddle, Peter Hartley who make a massive contribution.”
New signings Solano and Nish were among the group being put through their paces in the Durham sunshine yesterday.
They will join their new team-mates in jetting off to Holland tomorrow afternoon for a pre-season training camp and two friendly matches against Dutch opposition.
And Wadsworth disagrees with the notion that players dread this time of year.
“I don’t think players do hate it,” he insisted.
“I think they look forward to it with some enthusiasm.
“The fact that they’re in better shape when they report back helps and most of our players are in great condition.
“Fitness and nutrition has come on so much over the past 10 years that players return in very good shape.
“We’ve had a good first week or so and Holland will be an excellent opportunity to step things up a gear with the matches.”