Meticulous Craig Hignett challenges Hartlepool United squad

Craig Hignett
Craig Hignett

The Hartlepool United squad returned to work today - and Craig Hignett is relishing his first pre-season as a manager.

Hignett took charge in February, his first appointment as manager after two spells as an assistant, and has impressed with his tactical nous and eye for detail.

After steering Pools to League Two safety last term, Hignett has now challenged his new-look squad to challenge higher up the league table.

Preparations began in earnest today and Hignett has been meticulous in his planning.

Hignett told SportMail: “I have every session planned.

“There is a method to it, I know what I am going to be working on and the messages I want to get across to the players.

“I pretty much know how I will play but I want to be flexible as well and I have the players now that I can be flexible with.

“We will see how pre-season goes and take it from there but it certainly won’t be old school.

“Pre-season won’t just be all running and making them sick.

“Everything will be with the ball, geared to how I want us to play when the season kicks off.”

Pools have already confirmed four first team friendlies, with trips to Billingham Town and Salford City complemented by home fixtures against Sunderland and Scunthorpe United ahead of the new campaign.

And with the likes of Blackpool, Doncaster Rovers and Crewe Alexandra in League Two, the level of competition will be high.

“There are a few clubs with a lot of money in our league and that always makes a difference but I think it will be the same in terms of how competitive the league is,” said Hignett.

“Anyone really can beat anyone on the day and if you are well organised, work hard and the lads want it enough, then you can do well in this league.

“Hopefully we won’t be struggling this season, I want us looking the other way and I want to try and push upwards.

“Overall, from February onwards, the amount of points we won was good and I want to continue that. With the signings we have already made, then I think we will be stronger than last season.”