SIMON Walton is confident his Hartlepool United team mates will hit the ground running after another impressive pre-season showing.
Pools put in a solid display against a strong Hull City side to maintain their unbeaten run at home as the clock ticks down to the 2012-13 League One campaign.
Neale Cooper’s men have so far fared well in three home games against Premier League neighbours Sunderland and Championship sides Middlesbrough and Hull.
Pools start their season this Saturday with a Capital One Cup first round tie away at Crewe Alexandra.
And 24-year-old Walton says confidence is high ahead of the season’s curtain raiser.
The midfielder, who was at the heart of the action, said: “Saturday was another test against good quality opposition from a higher league and it was a well fought out game.
“It was quite competitive and yet again we have not got beat, so it served its purpose.
“Everybody just wants to get the season underway now.”
Pools have a refreshing resilience about them and Walton says it will stand them in good stead.
Walton, a summer signing from League Two Plymouth Argyle, said: “The people that usually say results don’t matter in pre-season are the ones that usually get battered.
“In every game, results count and it is the habit of not losing.
“You get into a habit, whether it is a good one or a bad one.
“At the minute we are getting into the ‘not getting beaten habit,’ against teams who are going to do relatively well in their leagues, whether it be two leagues or one league above us.
“We have acquitted ourselves very well but it is pre-season and we are not getting too carried away.
“But you have to take a hell of a lot of confidence from it so far.”
The popular midfielder said he has “thoroughly enjoyed” every minute since signing for Pools this summer.
Walton, who got a further 90 minutes under his belt against Hull, praised the staff and players for giving the new signings such a warm welcome.
Walton said: “The lads and staff have certainly helped me blend in.
“There has been a few new lads come in together which helped and we have spent quite a bit of time together these last few weeks.
“It has gone reasonably well and we just want to hit the ground running and get things underway now.”
Walton’s role is at the heart of the engine room and he has certainly put himself about in the past few games, showing his ability to put in a crunching tackle and pick a pass.
He added: “It is pre-season and you are supposed to get better and stronger with each game.
“We have all, from one to 11, acquitted ourselves pretty well in each game so far and I am pleased with my fitness levels.
“You are only going to get better and that is the aim, if you peak in pre-season then you will be struggling for 50 games.
“I am pretty pleased with how it has gone from a personal and a squad point of view.
“So, hopefully we will get better individually and as a team and we will certainly go places.”
– RICHARD MENNEAR