Craig Harrison happy to have full squad at Hartlepool United ... almost

Hartlepool United's players on the run at Maiden Castle.
Hartlepool United's players on the run at Maiden Castle.

Craig Harrison had a near-full squad under his control at pre-season training in Durham today.

The new Hartlepool United boss had brought forward the opening day of pre-season from Friday to Monday, meaning a couple of players were still away for the start of the programme.

However, defender Scott Harrison and midfielder Lewis Hawkins were reunited with their old colleagues and new signings today at Maiden Castle, keeper Scott Loach, defender Blair Adams, midfielder Luke George and attackers Ryan Donaldson, Jack Munns and Jaker Cassidy.

"Scotty and Hawks weren’t in on Monday," explained Harrison.

"They had previously been told a different date to come back, it’s changed now and they are all in now."

Out-of-contract Brad Walker was the only absentee, but the manager hopes he will sign a new deal this week.

Harrison has been impressed with what he's seen so far at Maiden Castle and has marvelled at the good early condition of his men.

“Pre-season has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years from when I was doing pre-season," said the former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender.

"Modern-day football is different.

"They all came back in good condition, if you don’t come back in that condition, there’s only the player who'll miss out in the weeks to come and that's them.

"Gone are the days when you might put on a stone in the summer because you know you will get rid of it in he first two weeks.

“Coming back out of shape is not acceptable these days, people keep themselves in condition now."

He added: "The lads came back four days earlier and it’s about bedding in and getting started.

“The lads did a bit on day one to be fair, and we have had the statistics of the GPS system we are using and they have done more than we thought they would.

“It’s about progression and we have almost six weeks to the first game of the season, and we just want to be as fit as possible for the start.