HARTLEPOOL United will not be fazed by starting their competitive season with a Capital One Cup tie.
Pools open up their 2012-13 programme with a trip to Crewe Alexandra in the cup with the all League One contest scheduled for Tuesday, August 14.
The date is four days before the League One season kicks off – domestic football having delayed its start because of the Olympic games.
Micky Barron, Neale Cooper’s right-hand man and reserve team coach, said: “It’s certainly a tough game – Crewe had a great end to the season and it’s even harder the fact we are away.
“Personally, I’m excited about the draw.
“It’s going to be a good game and it’s nice to go somewhere we haven’t been for a few years.
“Playing before the season starts is not a problem, far from it.
“Last year we played Sunderland in Ritchie’s testimoniai game in the midweek before the league started.
“It worked out great for us – we went on to have a cracking start to the season.
“I hope it’s a good omen.
“It’s pencilled in to be a midweek game but whether it gets played earlier remains to be seen.
“The Football League have said that if both teams agree that clubs can briong the ties forward to Saturday the 11th.
“Perhaps that is something to take into consideration?
“Whenever it’s played it has the makings of a good match and one we’ll look forward to.”
Barron is probably more concerned by the fact that Pools will be coming up against a team on a high following their promotion.
The Railwaymen won promotion back to League One last month after three seasons in English football’s bottom tier.
Crewe clinched Wembley glory in the League Two play-off final when they beat Cheltenham Town 2-0, teenage hotshot Nick Powell setting them on their way to victory.
The Alex are England’s form side in 2012, producing a spectacular sequence of results to rise from 12th in the table in February to reach the play-offs.
Crewe, inspired by the form of Powell, scored in every one of their last 19 games and Pools probably have drawn the best of the unseeded teams in the first round.
However, given Pools’ away form it should not concern Neale Cooper and his squad.
“Crewe have done fantastic and deserve congratulating for their promotion,” he said.
“But they have lost their main player and it will be interesting to see who they bring in and how much the team might change.
“It is a tough game but it’s one we’ve got to go there and be confident about and our away form has been very good compared to our form at home.
“But that was last season, we have a new one to look forward to in August.
“We need to keep our away form going and build up our home form.”
Pools last played Crewe in this competition back in August 1999 when Barron was at the heart of the defence.
The clubs staged two great tussles, an end-to-end thriller at Victoria Park finishing 3-3, Gus Di Lella, Tommy Miller and Paul Stephenson on target for Chris Turner’s team.
A late, late Colin Little goal seven days later gave Crewe, then a championship club, a 4-3 aggregate success over Pools who were just beginning to go places under Turner.
Barron said: “I can’t remember a thing about it!
“I’m hopeless about stuff like that – it sounded like some game.”