Jake Cassidy keen to put difficult first season at Pools behind him amid speculation on his future

Hartlepool United's Jake Cassidy in action against Spennymoor Town on Saturday.
Hartlepool United's Jake Cassidy in action against Spennymoor Town on Saturday.

Hartlepool United striker Jake Cassidy is determined to put a frustrating first season at Victoria Park behind him.

And he hopes a more free-flowing, attacking brand of football deployed by new boss Matthew Bates can not only improve his goalscoring chances, but also Pools’ promotion hopes.

Cassidy is one of four players battling it out to start the campaign as Hartlepool’s main striker.

Luke James, Marcus Dinanga and Niko Muir – all signed this summer by Bates – have added competition to Cassidy’s previously unblocked route to the starting XI.

It is a far cry from last season, when Pools had to week after week patch Cassidy up, not long back from injury, to lead the charge.

Now there are no guarantees he will even make the side, come next Saturday.

This is not bad thing, according to Cassidy, who admits he was frustrated with his five-goal tally from last season.

Not only does he believe the competition for places is healthy, but he also thinks the days of leading the line, with no support should be long gone under Bates.

“We were frustrated as a team last year, not just individually,” said Cassidy.

“Things feel a little different going into this year – hopefully, we can all kick on and improve.

“For me personally I want to get a lot more goals.

“What a time it was last year.

“Sometimes you just have to accept that you are needed to put a shift in for the team. I felt like I did that last season.

“This time there is a little more passing and link up between the forwards and the midfield which is good for everyone. I hope to take advantage.”

On compeition for places this season, manager Bates feels his squad is well stocked in most areas, although he is looking to still add one or two more new faces to his ranks.

He accepts, though, that some additions may have to wait, given that the likes of Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Sunderland do not yet know the full make up of their first-team and under-23 squads.

“We have competition in every area,” said Bates ahead of his side’s final summer warm-up game against Boro’s youth ranks.

“At the back, wing-back, midfield, we have four attacking players.

“It’s probably the first time since I came to the club that we’ve had that real competition everywhere.

“It brings out the best in the players. It has to, otherwise they don’t play.”