Michael Nelson assesses Hartlepool United's promotion credentials

Hartlepool United legend Michael Nelson has backed the club to challenge for a return to the Football League this season.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 09:33 am
Updated Friday, 2nd August 2019, 09:33 am
Former Hartlepool United defender Michael Nelson warming up during Hartlepool United's 2-1 home victory over Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID

Craig Hignett’s side are currently preparing for their third season in the National League and the former Middlesbrough star has been hard at work in the transfer market.

Nelson – who has joined National League North club Gateshead in a player-coach role recently – admitted that he has been impressed with the business that his former club have conducted over the summer and insisted that they can end their time in non-league football at the third attempt this season.

He told The Mail: “Craig has steadied the ship and he did well at the end of last season.

“Looking at the squad, they have recruited really well, and they have managed to keep hold of some key players too.

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“Sometimes the key to recruitment is not always what you bring in, but what you manage to keep hold of. I think they have used the budget well and now it’s just down to how they start the season.

“It’s a very difficult league to get out of and there is some real quality in there. There is a lot of variation in there and you have teams that like to play football like Fylde, and teams that are big strong units like Solihull.

“There’s no right or wrong in that league, it’s just winning or losing, and hopefully Hartlepool will get that balance right.”

Nelson was a firm favourite with the Victoria Park faithful after playing a part in one of the most exciting sides in the club’s recent history.

Those times must feel a long time away for Pools supporters that saw their club slip into non-league football in 2017, but Nelson revealed his admiration for the level of commitment they have shown over the last two years.

“They turn up in their numbers no matter what,” he said.

“We were getting over 5,000 when we were in League One, and even in League Two we were getting strong crowds.

“Even in the National League, they continue to get behind their club and that can only bode well for the future.”