Carl Magnay insists fan power will be crucial for Hartlepool United’s bid for National League glory - starting against Dover Athletic.
Pools begin life outside the EFL tomorrow when they tackle the Whites at Victoria Park (kick-off 3pm).
It is a tough start for Craig Harrison and his new-look squad given the Kent club have performed up at the top end of the division for the last few seasons.
But Pools are not shy on confidence and Magnay says the backing of a confident home faithful will be as vital as what the players do on the Vic’s lush turf.
The new club captain is honoured to be leading the side out and hailed the Pools fans.
“It’s great to be starting the season at home and walking out as skipper will be a nice moment for me,” said the 28-year-old.
“I want the fans to know how valued they are by the squad. We have seen how important they are for us - the levels of support last season was phenomenal.
“The Doncaster game was a perfect example of that. For me, they turned that game around for us in the second half and we went from being a goal down to 2-1 up.
“I want to use what they showed that day in every home game going forward.”
Dover will be no pushovers and nor will any of the teams Pools will be trying to beat, as Magnay acknowledges.
However, the right-back believes the expertise and experience that Pools have in National League football will be pivotal to their hopes, not just tomorrow but the 45 matches which follow.
“A large part of this squad has won this league or made the play-offs in the league,” he explained. “So we know about what we are up against.
“The squad do know what it’s all about - we know Dover well and the lads who don’t we are letting them know. Dover have done well in the last few seasons and been in an around the play-offs.
“How we go about our business won’t be specifically tailored to them. I think it’s important not to give the opposition too much respect. We will do what we feel necessary and everyone is champing at the bit.”
Dover arrive with a reputation as a strong side, with a physical presence, none more so than Ryan Bird, the 6ft 3in former Pools loanee who will lead the Athletic line.
Magnay, who had a season in the National League with Grimsby, says some teams may try to muscle Pools out of it but says they are ready.
“A lot of teams will try to do that or think they can expose us physically,” he said. “But we are more prepared for that this year. We have brought in a couple of big, physical lads. I think we’ll be absolutely fine.
“But I don’t want us thinking about other teams too much, I want us concentrating on what we are good at.”
Boss Harrison faces a difficult day today to squeeze a near 20-man squad into 16 shirts for the visit of Dover.
Blair Adams should be fit after a groin niggle and so too Rhys Oates, who had the same problem.
Harrison will almost certainly go with the side which beat Middlesbrough last Friday and will have Jake Cassidy as firepower to come off the bench.
Pools (probable): Loach; Magnay, Harrison, Laing, Adams; Newton, Donaldson, Woods, Hawkins, Munns, Amond. Subs (probable): Catterick, Donnelly, Deverdics, Cassidy, Oates