NEIL Austin starts from scratch tomorrow in his bid to defend his Mr Indestructible title.
The Pools vice-captain appeared in every second of all 49 matches last season, a feat only equalled by Tommy Miller in recent times.
That amassed to a mammoth 4,410 minutes of consecutive action.
And Austin, rather than talk about emerging unscathed from the campaign’s first 90 at Crewe, is already setting his sights on a repeat of his remarkable run.
“I would absolutely love to do it again,” said the 29-year-old defender.
“It was the first time I’d achieved it in my career in 12 seasons as a pro.
“I’m surprised I’d never done it before because I’ve always kept myself in the best possible shape.
“But niggly injuries had always stopped me doing it.
“The irony was I missed a few games last summer, but I had no problems whatsoever once the season started.
“I wasn’t really aware of the significance of the run until towards the end of the season when the press started asking me about it.
“And it honestly was a very proud achievement to see it through.
“I see no reason why I can’t give it a good shot again this year and minute one starts tomorrow – bring it on!”
And the secret behind Austin’s success?
“Nothing special really – I just eat the right things, drink the right things and look after myself,” said the player who has been labelled by the club’s medical staff as the “perfect specimen” for a professional athlete.
“But all of the lads here are the same and we bounce off each other really.
“I’m 29 now and I’ve got to think about prolonging my career for as long as possible, so it’s something I will do until the day I finish, it’s the least you should do as a professional footballer.”
Austin admits he is looking forward to the start of the competitive action, especially given the runaround during the 5-1 defeat to Newcastle United on Tuesday night.
“It will be nice to see a bit of the ball this weekend,” he laughed.
“I was playing on Tuesday but all I really did was chase them.
“But they are in a different league and that’s why they finished fifth in the Premier League last season.”