Pools boss Craig Harrison is expecting a tough test against Sunderland tonight, but can't wait to lock horns with Simon Grayson.
Hartlepool host the Black Cats at Victoria Park this evening as they continue their preparation for life in the National League.
And Harrison admits he thinks the visit of Grayson's men is the perfect test for his Pools players, who start their season in just over a fortnight.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Harrison told the club website.
"We've had three games away from home and this is a great fixture to kick-off with at the Vic because it’s a local derby against what I’m sure will be a strong Sunderland side.
"They've got a new manager in Simon Grayson and some new signings too so they will offer us a big test but that will be perfect for us in terms of the fitness work we want to get out of it.
"I'm sure there will be a big crowd there so the atmosphere is something we can all enjoy.
"I've been looking forward to the first home game since I joined the Club so it's something I am very excited about."
On the injury front Jake Cassidy, Luke George, Devante Rodney will miss out, while Nicky Deverdics may be rested.
Jack Munns is likely to return to the side having sat out the defeat at Harrogate Town on Saturday.
"I'm going to try and get ninety minutes in to as many players as possible," said Harrison.
"We're just gradually stepping things up so I would like to think the majority of the lads can get a full match under their belts either tonight or at St Johnstone on Saturday."