Hartlepool United boss on first impressions, competition for places and Pools' latest recruit

Pools boss Craig Harrison.
Pools boss Craig Harrison.

Craig Harrison has warned his Hartlepool United players first impressions will go a long way when the squad reconvenes for pre-season training on Monday.

The new boss is expecting his players to come back eager to impress after a summer of change at Victoria Park, the biggest one being Pools will be playing outside the Football League for the first time in their history.

Ahead of the National League campaign, the Pools squad has been boosted by the arrival of six new faces but Harrison has warned all of his player that they have a fight on their hands to secure a place in his starting line-up.

Left-back Blair Adams is the latest recruit, joining keeper Scott Loach, midfielder Luke George and attacking talents Ryan Donaldson, Jack Munns and Jake Cassidy at The Vic.

"After relegation and with a new manager coming in, I think it’s a given that the players will come back in great shape and determined to impress," Harrison told the club website.
"One thing I can guarantee them all is that they will have to fight for their position – and that will start on Monday morning because how they perform will immediately give me an idea in my head.

"We don’t need anyone playing catch-up because it’s going to be very competitive from the start on Monday," added the new Pools boss, who also praised the fans after season ticket sales broke through the 1,000 barrier.

New Hartlepool United left-back Blair Adams.

New Hartlepool United left-back Blair Adams.

Among those players that will be eager to make an instant impression is South Shields-born Adams, who came through the youth ranks at Sunderland.

The 25-year-old, who will fill the vacant left-back spot at Pools, was snapped up by Harrison following his release by Scottish Premiership outfit Hamilton Academical.

"He’s the type of player who fits in to what we’re looking to do," added Harrison.

"We might need to bring one or two older heads in to the group for experience but we want have the best players we possibly can come here so it’s great that we’ve got so many between 23 and 28 who can enjoy the primes of their career with us.

"I don’t think we have too many naturally left-footed players in the squad so Blair brings a balance to the team too.

"The way I want to play, particularly at home, is making the pitch as big as possible so you don’t really want to have a right-footer playing on the left because they then naturally look to come inside and that can make you predictable.

"Blair gives us a fantastic energy up and down the left flank and in modern day football he fits what you’re looking for from a full-back.

"If you look at most divisions I bet 80 per cent of full-backs are up there towards the top of the assists table – that’s just the way football has evolved with full-backs almost acting as the new wingers."

Harrison, happy with his summer transfer business so far, says work continues to improve the squad but he is confident the vast majority of his Pools jigsaw is now in place.

Harrison added: "When I first came in I analysed everything and identified six or seven areas that I thought needed improving and we’re about 90 per cent there now.

"I would still like to think we can bring one more player in to a key area and in an ideal world I would love to bring another three in.

"There is work going on in the background towards that and hopefully we will have more progress to report soon."