War Paynt! Striker Paynter ready to battle for Hartlepool United this season

HUFC training at Catterick. Picture by FRANK REID

HUFC training at Catterick. Picture by FRANK REID

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The “sky is the limit” for Hartlepool United this season, insists Billy Paynter.

The 30-year-old was playing for League Two rivals Carlisle United last season and he has revealed a lot of his ex-team-mates had written Pools off as they battled the drop.

The sky is the limit for Hartlepool this year

Billy Paynter

Wrongly as it turned out, with Ronnie Moore inspiring the side to turn around a 10-point gap to safety and stay up with a game to go.

Now Paynter is part of the Pools squad after signing a one-year contract at Victoria Park.

And he believes the new-look squad Moore has put together, which includes eight new faces, has the potential to have a very successful season in 2015-16.

Pools are trying to avoid raising expectation levels too much but a push towards the play-offs wouldn’t be an unrealistic target.

“There is a lot of excitement around the place and what the manager and the players did last year can only encourage you,” Paynter told SportMail.

“The manager has got ambitions to do well this year and to see what they did last season was remarkable really.

“Some people in our dressing room [at Carlisle] had written off Hartlepool and they were saying we were only fighting for one relegation spot.

“But that was wrong because as soon as teams get on a winning run they can he hard to stop.

“That is what they did and put a lot of pressure on the teams around.

“They did the job and the sky is the limit for Hartlepool this year.

“Just think about the positives, finishing the season strongly, and build on that.”

Targetman Paynter, a priority signing for Moore this summer, is competing with Scott Fenwick, Rakish Bingham and Rhys Oates for a place in the starting line-up.

And he has got to know his new team-mates a little better during their four-day Army boot camp at Catterick this week.

Not that the popular Scouser is having any trouble settling in at Pools after making the move from Cumbria to the North East.

Straight-talking Paynter, one of the stand-out characters at Catterick, added: “You go in for the first day of training and you try to build up a little conversation straight away.

“But I knew a few of the lads already and it is just a case of getting to know people a lot more.

“Staying over at Catterick has helped on that front and has allowed the team to bond.”