Hartlepool boss Craig Harrison looking forward to seeing his players in action

Craig Harrison
Craig Harrison

Craig Harrison will get to see Hartlepool United in action for the first time this week.

The Pools boss takes his new team to Billingham Town on Thursday night when he is likely to send out much of his squad for some game-time.

Bedford Terrace has been a traditional starting point for Pools in friendly season and this is no different.

There has been frustration in some quarters that there are no ‘big games’ at Victoria Park to look forward to.

The one significant opposition, Wigan Athletic, have cried off, after new boss Paul Cook complained about too many away trips for the Latics.

At this moment in time, Pools have only one home match, a visit of a Middlesbrough XI on the final Saturday before the start of the National League programme on August 5.

Harrison explained that the friendly fixtures were largely out of his control because he did not arrive at the Vic until late May.

“It’s been a tough one, I’ve had to shuffle it around a bit,” said the manager.

“Everyone should know these games are organised in April and May – it’s not easy to get opposition willy nilly.

“Everyone is organised and done, not many clubs are left without games - pre-season wasn’t organised when I came in.

“I’ve tried to do my best and I am trying get games arranged, but that is more me calling favours in and trying to get the best pre-season we can.”

The Pools schedule has a non-league look to it.

Following the Billingham derby, Pools visit another EBAC Northern League outfit in Dunston UTS on Wednesday, July 12.

They then have a Saturday journey to Harrogate Town on July 15.

The other games are Blyth (a) on Tuesday, July 18, before playing two matches on July 29, Whitley Bay (a) and Middlesbrough (h).

Following the loss of the Wigan date, Harrison will look to add a new fixture on July 25.

Harrison says the vital issue for Pools is being ready for the start of National League hostilities on Saturday, August 5.

And the former TNS chief says the squad must be right physically.

“It’s important we get ourselves fit,” said Harrison.

“You look at the old Brazil who would play teams before World Cups and beat them 8-0, 9-0, 10-0.

“And then they’d go and win it!

“If you play good teams and lose, your confidence goes, it’s getting a happy medium.

“The pre-season matches are something I couldn’t do much about, so it is what it is.”