Hartlepool midfielder eager for return

Michael Woods
Michael Woods

Michael Woods hopes a strong pre-season will provide the platform for his best year at Hartlepool United.

The midfielder has signed a new contract to stay at Victoria Park and is relishing a return to work on Wednesday when he will begin preparing for his third campaign.

It would be nice, touch wood, to get a full pre-season under my belt.

Pools meet up at Maiden Castle where Woods will be looking to “kick on” for the 2016-17 programme which starts at home against relegated Colchester United on August 6.

The 26-year-old says he has yet to have a full pre-season, having been signed by Colin Cooper on the eve of the 2014-15 fixtures while 12 months ago he was coming back from a broken ankle and fractured fibula.

“Last year in pre-season I was playing catch-up and the year before under Colin I didn’t come in until the season had started,” he told SportMail.

“It would be nice, touch wood, to get a full pre-season under my belt and hopefully that will help me kick on a bit more.”

Last season was Woods’s best in a Pools shirt, playing 37 times, scoring three goals.

The former Chelsea player has justified the decision by Cooper to sign him after a season in non-league football, Harrogate.

“It’s been well-documented the injuries I’ve had through my career, some serious ones,” he said.

“I’m at an age now when I want to enjoy my football and I can do that here and, obviously, with the gaffer I think we can achieve things which is important.

“I always hoped to get back in the league.

“I think you always have to keep faith in your ability and I thank Colin for signing me.

“The only doubts I had were in my body, whether I could maintain the injuries I had.

“Could I do the day-to-day training? The league schedule as well throws up eight or nine games in a month sometimes.

“It’s a lot of games at times but last year I got stronger as the season went on after my broken leg.”

Woods will be meeting up with a number of new players following the triple signing by Craig Hignett of Nicky Deverdics, Toto Nsalia and Padraig Amond.

And the midfielder says Hignett told him more may be at the Durham training base on Wednesday.

“I had a chat with the gaffer and he says he’s going to try to get his business done as soon as he can, just so we get the new lads to come in and get used to how we play, which will be vital,” he said.

“Competition for places is going to be vital, without that I don’t a team can achieve anything.”