Craig Hignett’s Hartlepool United jigsaw is almost complete, but there are still a hole or two to fill.
Two important pieces have been added this week, with Michael Woods signing a new deal and striker Padraig Amond joining on a two-year contract from Grimsby Town.
I’m really happy with what I’ve got, but I’m going to add to itCraig Hignett
With central defender Toto Nsiala and attacking midfielder Nicky Deverdics already part of the puzzle, it looks an exciting time at Victoria park.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve got, but I’m going to add to it,” Hignett told SportMail.
“The squad that we’ll have will be much stronger than the one that we’ve had [last season].
“Bit by bit we’ll keep adding to it, adding better standard of players.
“And the better we do, the more attractive the place looks to others.”
His new signings will bring much to the team, the trio dropping into each department.
But the presence of Woods in his midfield again has thrilled Hignett.
The midfielder has, finally, put pen to paper on his contract, keeping him at the Vic for a further season.
Hignett has remained confident that the 26-year-old would stick with Pools.
“I’m delighted to have got Woodsy,” said the manager.
“He has kept me in touch all along.
“There was interest from other clubs, which I thought there would be because he’s a really good player.
“All along, he’s told me what he wants and I never doubted him for a minute.
“Once we sorted stuff out and he’d finished his holidays, he was in straight away to sign.”
Woods brought great energy to the midfield, forming an excellent unit with Nicky Featherstone and Lewis Hawkins.
The former Chelsea youth product also displayed his injury woes from earlier in his career are firmly behind him.
Woods recovered from a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula which he suffered early in the Great Escape and only missed a handful games in mid-season.
“He played over 30 games and that shows where his fitness is,” declared Hignett.
On the subject of fitness, Pools will return to work a week today at Maiden Castle.
It will be the first time the newly-shaped squad will get together with Amond, Deverdics and Nsiala meeting up with their team-mates.
Hignett is looking forward to it and says the players willl be returning reasonably fit and ready to work.’
Gone are the days when players return carrying too much poundage and need their bellies running off before the serious preparations can begin.
“They will come back in pretty good shape,” predicted the manager. “I’ve seen a lot of the lads already and they look in decent nick.”