Hartlepool Utd boss in a battle for hearts and minds

Colin Cooper during training
Colin Cooper during training

TESTING the hearts and minds of his Hartlepool United players is what pre-season training is all about, insists manager Colin Cooper, writes Richard Mennear.

The Pools squad have been back training for two days now and were further put through their paces at the club’s Maiden Castle training ground, in Durham, yesterday.

They have all come back fighting fit as well, much to the delight of their gaffer, who was in a positive mood ahead of testing his players further over the coming weeks.

Pools kick-off their Sky Bet League Two campaign with an away trip to Stevenage on Saturday, August 9.

Cooper said while it is important to get all the fitness work done it is also crucial the players remain injury free and are fit and available for selection - especially given the small size of the current squad.

Before the season opener the Pools camp also have a week-long training camp in Spain next week and several friendlies to look forward to including Sunderland at Victoria Park on Wednesday, July 23 and Middlesbrough at home the following Wednesday, July 30.

Plenty of work ahead then for the Pools first team squad before the curtain raiser.

“Everybody will stress, and rightly so, that if you get a good block of base work down then you hope it stands you in good stead for the rest of the season,” explained Cooper.

“You often hear players say that if they feel as though they have missed pre-season then they are then playing catch-up.

“For clubs at this level the job is to get the work done but to also get as many people through to the end of pre-season – ready for August 9 – fit and available.

“There is no good having a flying pre-season and then people pull up towards the end.”

Cooper added: “Pre-season is about testing people’s hearts and minds – that is what it is all about.

“I have to say that I was quite happy with the first couple of tests around people’s weight and body fats, which were all good.

“I was expecting what I got and I was happy with that but that is just day one.

“You want to test people’s hearts and minds because you find during the season that when you get tested physically and mentally that this is the time of the year you feel as though you have the fuel you need.”