Hartlepool United stalwart Ben Clark backs Pools to improve by recruiting a core of local lads this summer

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Former Hartlepool United stalwart Ben Clark feels signing a core of players with links to the local area could help Pools be more competitive next season.

So far, new manager Darren Sarll has lived up to his vow to recruit players with a connection to the North East, having signed Durham-born attacker Luke Charman and former Gateshead midfielder Jack Hunter.

Clark, who was born in Consett and represented Hartlepool, Gateshead and Sunderland, helping Pools to promotion in 2007, understands the importance of having a core of local lads in the squad; he even moved from Manchester United to Sunderland after becoming homesick.

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Of course, there is a balance to be found between signing players with links to the North East and those with the talent to help Pools improve on last season's mid-table finish; Sarll will be hoping his first two new additions represent the best of both worlds.

Ben Clark, who was born in Consett and went on to represent Sunderland, Pools and Gateshead, has backed Sarll's local recruitment drive.Ben Clark, who was born in Consett and went on to represent Sunderland, Pools and Gateshead, has backed Sarll's local recruitment drive.
Ben Clark, who was born in Consett and went on to represent Sunderland, Pools and Gateshead, has backed Sarll's local recruitment drive.

The thinking, presumably, is that players with a connection to the local area will better understand the unique footballing climate in the North East while also endearing them to the typically expectant supporters.

And Clark, who made more than 150 appearances for Pools and coached Jack Hunter at Gateshead, thinks the emphasis on geography wil stand his former side in good stead next season.

"I think it's a good idea," he said.

"Having played here, I know what it's like. When things are going well, there's no better place to play football but, when you're struggling, it can be difficult.

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"Having players who understand that, who know what it means, is important.

"Jack (Hunter) knows the North East well and I think he'll be able to meet the demands of the supporters.

"It also might mean fans are a little more patient. There will be times throughout a season when players have a dip in form.

"Looking at the first two signings, it's clear what the club are trying to do.

"For me, it makes sense. Getting players in who know what it means to represent the club will help next season.

"It's about that passion, that will to win, and I think the new lads will have that."

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