‘We’re no bottlers’ - that’s the message from Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison ahead of the club’s first forays into the National League.
Pools are set to take part in their second pre-season match of the summer tonight, when they travel to Dunston UTS.
And having overseen his side’s emphatic opening night win over Billingham Town last week, Harrison believes his squad have got the right character to mount a serious title challenge next season.
Although he knows securing promotion out of the fifth tier will be no easy task.
“We are not going to shirk the challenge which is in front of us,” said Harrison of Pools, who were accused of having too soft a centre during the campaign which saw them relegated from the Football League for the first time in 96 years.
“We have got a big job on our hands.
“Not for one second does anyone in this football club think we will walk into the National League and cruise it. We will not.
“It will be really tough
for us. We are under no illusions.”
Harrison fielded 21 players in the midweek win last week, which saw Rhys Oates, Josh Hawkes and Padraig Amond net two apiece.
And he is happy with what he has seen so far this pre-season, both at Bedford Terrace last week, and on the training fields of Durham University’s Maiden Castle.
“We feel like we have put solid foundations down with pre-season,” said Harrison.
“And we added to that with a solid performance in the opening game.
“Now we need to keep moving forward with the ultimate aim of taking this club back to the Football League, as soon as possible.”
Pools added a seventh player to their ranks this week in the shape of former Sunderland, Notts County and Motherwell defender Louis Laing.
And he could well make his debut in the trip to the UTS Stadium.
All six of the club’s other new boys made their bow last week, and Harrison was delighted with their performances.
“They have been desperate to do well,” said the gaffer.
“They have been desperate to come in and take this club back to the Football League where it belongs.
“Lots of positives. There were no real negatives from the opener.”
Meanwhile, tickets for the club’s recently arranged pre-season clash with Sunderland have gone on sale.
Poolies can buy a spot in either the Camerons CK Stand or the Prostate Cancer UK Stand for the Victoria Park meeting on Tuesday July 18 (kick-off 7.30pm).
Tickets are priced at just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.