Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates says he must make sure his pre-season preparations are ‘spot on’ after they were handed a gruelling start to the National League campaign.
The 2018/19 fixtures were released on Wednesday with Pools handed a trip to Maidstone United in their season-opener.
It’s one of a number of lengthy away trips which will see the squad travel more than 3,000 miles in the first two months of the season.
And that start to the campaign means Bates and his coaching staff know they must hit the ground running.
The Pools boss, writing in his blog on the club’s website, said: “I think when you look at the first couple of months we’ve got quite a few long trips thrown in there so that means we have to make sure our preparations are spot on.
“It’s all about looking after the players and making sure we recover well between games.
“That makes it even more important that we do the hard work we’re getting through now on the fitness side because there won’t be much time to work on that when the season gets underway and it’s Saturday/Tuesday for a while.”
As well as a trip to Maidstone on the opening day, Pools are off to Braintree Town and Dagenham & Redbridge all within the first month.
September kicks-off with the second-longest journey of the season to Havant & Waterlooville – with only Dover Athletic further away from The Vic.
There are closer trips to Solihull Moors, FC Halifax Town and Salford City in the second month but all add to the mileage which comes out at an eye-watering 3,054 in round trips.
In total, Pools will play 14 games in the first two months of the season, a blistering, gruelling start to what they hope will be a successful campaign.
“I think as a player you’d be quite pleased with the amount of games in August and September, particularly if we can get off to a good start and get in to the winning habit,” added Bates,
“When you’re winning there can be a real momentum built and you just want the games to come thick and fast so hopefully that will be the case for us this season.
“It’s great the fixtures are out and now the real planning can take place. Obviously we’ve had a plan in place for pre-season training but now the games are in we can start our scouting work for the first couple of months and look at accommodation and other preparations more closely.”
Other key dates in the schedule include the festive games against Gateshead, with Pools travelling to the International Stadium on Boxing Day before hosting their derby rivals in the return game on New Year’s Day.
Pools, meanwhile, begin their pre-season fixtures tomorrow when they travel to Northern League Division Two side Billingham Town.
The game will see Bates use the majority of his squad as he eases them back into action.