Hartlepool United strike partners Luke James and Niko Muir know Jake Cassidy and Marcus Dinanga are after their places
Luke James hopes the early shoots of a goal-laden partnership with Niko Muir can continue to grow at Hartlepool United.
But, despite an impressive start to the campaign, James knows the duo will have to be on their toes to keep their place in the starting XI - with Jake Cassidy and Marcus Dinanga champing at the bit to get in on the act.
“The partnership has been good,” said James, after scoring in the weekend win over Maidenhead United.
“Me and Niko are in the team but the competition for places is there with Marcus and Cass, too.
“Every day in training is high intensity because each one of us is trying to get the edge.
“When you think of where Niko has come from he has fitted in very well.
“It’s honestly like he has been here for years.”
James is a player who has always thrives off life at Pools.
Despite playing up and down the land, from Peterborough to Barrow, no spell at any club has matched the goals and success he’s had at Pools.
“It has been good - I am happy off the pitch so that can only be a good thing for what happens on it,” said James.
“I am from this area and I’m happy to back. When you are happy in your personal life your football is always going to improve.”
James netted his first goal in his third spell at Pools.
And while it meant a lot to him, scoring back at the Vic, the main thing for James was managing to finally secure all three points at the fifth National League attempt.
“It felt really good,” said the striker.
“But it was more important that we got the three points.
“Our last few performances have been very good, we just haven’t been able to get over that line.
“It was a great ball in from Ry (Ryan Donaldson) and I’ve just chucked myself at it.
“I was just so happy to score, especially at home and so soon after half time. It was important to get the goal and get ahead of a slow first half.”
While it was summer signing James who got Pools off and running towards victory, it was one of last season’s old guard who sealed victory.
A goal to the good, Pools needed another to settle the nerves and it came from an unlikely source - Nicky Featherstone.
Bursting into the opposition area the deep-lying midfielder broke the offside trap to find himself on goal, in attempting to round keeper Carl Pentney he was driven wide and just as the chance looked to have gone he produced a moment of magic to delicately guide over the goalkeeper’s head and into the far corner for 2-0.
And it was a good job, especially with Maidenhead netting a consolation late on to make for a nervy end.
“I’ve never seen him do that before,” said James.
“I’ve seen him hit a few good strikes in training but never anything close to that.
“It was a fantastic finish and we needed it to make sure we got the three points.”
James continued: “It was a massive result.
“It was more important because of Tuesday. That was one of the most one-sided games you will ever see.
“It was hard but you have to say to yourself that if you keep playing like that you will get the results and it was good that it all came together for us.”
Pools face Dagenham at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium on Saturday.