Hartlepool United players who can handle a National League dogfight

Craig Harrison is insistent that his Hartlepool United team will play bright, attacking football.

Monday, 19th June 2017, 10:50 am
Updated Monday, 19th June 2017, 11:53 am
Luke George (right) is a leader. Picture courtesy Chester Chronicle

But he is fully aware that Pools may have to earn the right to play first and some good old-fashioned blood and snot will be required.

It would be neither unfair nor inaccurate to say that Pools have been lacking the sort of player who, euphemistically, leaves his foot in/puts his stamp on the opposition etc.

When was the last time Pools had a “Roy Hogan” in midfield, a man who, to put it politely. might let the other side know he’s there?

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Come to think of it, they’ve not really had that sort of fella at the back either.

For all Toto Nsiala saw more cards than the Royal Mail, he was hardly in the Ron “Chopper” Harris bracket.

However, they now have that bit of bite in the shape of Luke George.

Hand-picked by Harrison, the 24-year-old Scouser has captained his last two clubs, both in the National League and is combative, to say the least.

“Historically, I am all about wanting to play football but you do need two or three of those kinds of players in your team,” said Harrison in an interview with the Pools website.

“And the great thing is, Luke has the enthusiasm to do that.

“If you channel that in the right direction, with discipline then it is so key overall.

“You need players who will roll up their sleeves and know when we’re in a dogfight, maybe away from home and need that bit of grit, they will roll their sleeves up and grind out the result.

“That can’t be underestimated.”

George, it is understood, is not some hired thug, he can play too.

But his strength is winning possession, affecting turnovers and getting the ball to the likes of fellow new signings, Jack Munns and Ryan Donaldson, who will provide an attacking impetus.

And then, of course, up front Pools will have another fresh arrival, the former Wolves, Tranmere and Oldham centre-forward Jake Cassidy.

Given Pools said farewell to club captain Billy Paynter last month and may lose top scorer, Padraig Amond, as well, attacking recruits were crucial, especially given Nathan Thomas and Lewis Alessandra, who shared 18 goals last season, were moved on.

Good football and goals – Harrison has delivered both during his reign as Britain’s most lethal team.

In six seasons in charge at The New Saints in Wales, the 39-year-old has won the Welsh Premier League six times – in six seasons.

Last term, TNS smashed in 101 goals – their biggest tally under the former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender.

The total in those six seasons is a whopping 511 goals, an incredible stat.

Naturally, Harrison and Pools are not going to be clocking up cricket scores in the National League like TNS have in Wales, though it would be nice to see Pools turning on the style again.

But Harrison is adamant that entertaining football is what he will be striving for when Pools get under way on August 5.

“I’d like to think we will play fantastic, free-flowing attacking football,” said the 39-year-old.

“That’s what I want. that’s what I believe in and all my teams have played that way.”

And don’t forget there will be that bit of steel, by George.