Hartlepool's Conor Newton opens up about dropping out of league football, coming home and fighting for his Pools place
As well as having to fight tooth and nail for every National League point, Conor Newton knows he faces a battle to retain his place in the Hartlepool United starting XI.
Pools head to Maidenhead United this afternoon in search of their first three points in the fifth tier, after an opening day bombshell from Dover and a hard-fought draw at Macclesfield Town in midweek.
And, after a slow start to life in blue and white, Newton is hopeful Pools can end their wait for three points at York Road (12.30pm).
But not only that, Newton, one of the club’s more high-profile summer signings, is hoping to cement his place in Craig Harrison’s side, with competition for places rife in Pools’ squad.
“The main focus is and always will be to get out of this league and the squad is good, there is a lot of depth and quality,” he said.
“There is healthy competition throughout the squad and I know there are players who can come in and play ahead of me.
“That is a good place to be for the manager.
“Every player knows that they will not be able to sit with their feet up and take their place for granted.”
The 25-year-old Newcastle United academy graduate feels like that first win could be just around the corner for Pools.
He continued: “We feel like we are getting closer and closer to that first win.
“It feels like it could be just around the corner.
“Everyone wants to get it out of the way but there are no easy points at this level.
“We had a baptism of fire on the first day, but we gelled more as a team on Tuesday and the signs are that things are getting better.”
Having spent time north of the border with St Mirren after his St James’s Park exit, Newton went to Rotherham and Cambridge before dropping out of the league to sign for Pools.
The central midfielder says he didn’t have to think twice about putting pen to paper at the Vic.
“On a personal level, it is great for me to be back home,” he said. “The main thing was to get back but it was also a massive opportunity.
“Hartlepool are a massive club, make no mistake about it.”