Hartlepool striker reveals the the ex-Man United men who have influenced his game

Hartlepool United striker Niko Muir has revealed the two players who have had the biggest influence on his game.

Despite his London roots, Muir admits it was the red of Manchester United that got his pluses racing as a kid.

Niko Muir

Niko Muir

And it was two Champions League, treble-winning strikers who caught the youngster's eye, helping to mould the former Hendon frontman, who has taken the National League by storm since arriving at the Super 6 Stadium.

"Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were the two I looked up to," said Muir.

"I used to support Man United when I was a kid. I used to watch Cole and watch everything about the way he played.

"I watched Cole, took a bit away with me about his game. Watched Yorke, took a bit of his game away with me, with the idea of applying that to my own game."

Andy Cole.

Andy Cole.

One of the biggest surprises this season has not been Muir's goals or his quality, the latter of which is become more and more apparent by the game, but it has been the speed at which he has adapted to life at National League level.

When watching him, it's difficult to comprehend that the player has never played anywhere close to this standard before, having come from the Isthmian League - two divisions below Pools - with Hendon.

When asked if there have been any things that have surprised him about the fifth tier and Pools, he said: "The squad is very good. The gaffer has brought in a very good standard of player.

"We have all got to keep working hard to keep the shirt.

Dwight Yorke.

Dwight Yorke.

"The standard at Hendon was more like you would get smashed every time you got the ball. The thing you had to deal with was not reacting, or showing it bothered you. If you did that they would know they got in your head.

"I felt like every defender wanted to eat me! With that experience I am always aware that it could happen. I am prepared for anything because of those experiences."

Something noticeable about this group is the morale in camp.

Seeing them walk around their Peterlee training base with smiles on their faces is a long way from how things were this time last season.

"Everyone has been buzzing," said Muir about his integration into the squad.

"There is a confidence. We just need to keep trying to win and be positive.

"Everyone has bought into his [Bates] style of play, there is a lot of banter, everyone gets on. It's a good place to be."

When plying his trade down in the seventh division, and working part-time at Sainbsury's, Muir admits time got tough.

But he never lost hope that one day someone would give him his time in the limelight.

And he's determined now to grasp it with both hands.

"I want to keep playing the way I am," he said.

"I know I need to keep working hard but I am used to working hard so that's what I intend to do.

"Sometimes when you are not a pro you lose belief, but you have hope someone will take a chance on you.

"Now someone has, it's my time to show I can do it."