Hartlepool boss hails a mission accomplished
Mission accomplished. That was the declaration of Craig Hignett at the end of Hartlepool United's Tenerife training camp.
Pools have returned home following a week in the heat of the largest of the Canary Islands.
It is the furthest the League Two team has ventured after years of domestic pre-season slogs were followed by stints in Norway, the Netherlands ... and Catterick!
But Hignett, the brains behind the trip to La Caleta, said it has been “a brilliant week” for the squad and staff.
“The lads have really put it in and worked hard,” said the manager.
“You can see them getting fitter and sharper every day.
“We’ve had a really good period of work and I am really pleased with everything.
“It has been a brilliant week for the players.”
Hignett and first-team coach, Curtis Fleming, have pushed the team hard, not just fitness work but attacking and defensive play.
The only thing the players have lacked was competitive football.
Hignett had planned two friendlies, against a Football League club and local opposition, but neither came off.
There was an in-house match on Wednesday, but otherwise it was intense sessions, including the final two days.
“We worked them really hard on Friday with a double session focused on the defensive side of the game,” Hignett told the club website.
“It gave us the opportunity to work on defending as a unit as well as some clearance work and one against one play which we returned to in the afternoon session.
“We’re building on things bit by bit really and making sure that we’re ready in all departments when the season kicks-off.
“The work we’ve been able to get through this week has been fantastic.
“I feel like the new lads in the squad are getting to know how we play now and what type of football team we are.
“We had planned Saturday’s morning session as a tough one because it was the only one of the day and the lads had two days off to recover.
“The circuit work we did with the balls was one I’ve done myself in the past – and I can tell you it’s a very, very hard one.
“It was the kind of exercise you don’t look forward to as a player but thankfully most of them didn’t know what was coming!
“It was a real leg-burner but to get that work in to them will be a big benefit.
“There were a few moans and groans here and there because of how tough the work was but that’s only to be expected.
“When you’re tired you start making a few mistakes you get frustrated.
“The fact mistakes do annoy them shows that we have the right types of character so I don’t mind that.”