Craig Hignett says he and Colin Cooper are “ahead of the game” at Pools

Craig Hignett Colin Cooper
Craig Hignett Colin Cooper

HARTLEPOOL United’s new management team are already “ahead of the game” in their plans for next season.

That is the message from assistant boss Craig Hignett today as he and Colin Cooper prepare to lead Pools into League Two.

Cooper was confirmed as successor to John Hughes yesterday afternoon with the former Middlesbrough and Pools midfielder installed as his No.2.

SportMail reported early last week that Boro academy coach Cooper had agreed to take over at Victoria Park.

In that time the 46-year-old and his right-hand man have begun plotting for next term with the squad set to reconvene at Maiden Castle on June 24.

The pair will climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania next month, raising money for the Finlay Cooper Fund, a charity set up in memory of Cooper’s two-year-old son who died in 2002.

And Hignett told SportMail: “We’ll definitely be taking our phones with us up Kilimanjaro!

“This is a 24/7 job for us and we’ve already started - we’re ahead of the game.

“We have to make sure we hit the ground running.

“I have been talking to Colin about things over the past couple of weeks.

“We know how we want to structure the club and we’re massively excited about it.

“This is what we both want to do and what we have both been working towards.”

Hignett admits that close-season recruitment will be their chief concern over the coming weeks.

Previous boss Hughes – sacked last month in the wake of relegation – did not always sing from the same hymn sheet with the club’s hierarchy when it came to transfer policy.

Hignett, though, says talks with chairman Ken Hodcroft have been encouraging on that front.

“The chairman has given us a blank piece of paper to come in and do what we want,” he went on.

“We know there is a budget and we know there is not millions to spend.

“But I don’t think we need to make massive changes.

“We have already identified players we want to bring in and we know what sort of squad we are inheriting.

“We will assess what we need to do to get the best out of the players already here and hopefully bring in one or two of our own.”

Hignett finished his playing career at Pools in 2007 and has since gone on to enjoy a coaching position within Boro’s academy, as well as various media roles.

Coaching, though, is where his passion lies and he is expected to concentrate on first-team affairs with a senior pro – possibly Sam Collins – becoming more involved in reserve-team matters.

“Since I packed in I’ve had six years coaching and I’ve got all of my badges,” he added.

“This is the next progression for me.

“I know how a football club works - I have that experience behind me.

“We both love what we do and we cannot wait to get started.”