Michael Woods is ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Hartlepool’s starting XI.
Manager Craig Harrison is not short of options in Woods’ department.
“It is going to be tough for anyone to get, then hold down, a place in the starting XI.”Michael Woods
The addition of two midfielders - Luke George and Ryan Donaldson - with another likely to be on the way means competition is fierce in the Pools engine-room.
And despite the drop in levels from Football League to National League, Woods believes it is going to be harder than ever to secure a spot in Craig Harrison’s midfield unit.
“Last season there were six or seven who were very similar type of player. This time, we are split into two, there are a couple of destroyers, who do one side of the game and you have the others who want to do the other side of the game,” explains Woods, who started in a slightly more advanced role, playing just off Rhys Oates in the opening 45 of Pools 5-0 win at Billingham Town last week.
“That blend is going to be massive and the gaffer has said that from minute one.
“He’s still hoping to bring a couple more bodies in.
“You look at last season when the spine of the team, keeper, captain, centre-half were missing for long periods and it hit us hard.
“This year we have a little bit more strength in depth and the competition for places is going to be vital.
“It is going to be tough for anyone to get, then hold down, a place in the starting XI.”
While League Two and the fifth tier have exactly the same amount of teams, the amount of games Pools will have to play next season could well ramp up - adding in the FA Trophy, FA Cup qualifying round and also potentially the end of season play-offs.
Woods believes Hartlepool will need all the players they can get ahead of what he thinks will be an arduous campaign.
“If you look at the schedule and there are games every few days,” he said.
“And if you have a good cup run, the competition for places is going to be massive.
“There are going to be injuries as well. That is why we need as many players as possible. Competition is no bad thing.”
One player who breaks the mould of recent Pools signings in midfield enforcer Luke George.
The former Chester skipper showed just what he can bring to the team last Thursday when he put in a number of crunching challenges.
That physicality is something Pools have missed in recent years.
On George, and the other new lads, Woods said: “I know a couple of the lads that have been brought in.
“We had a lot of the same type of footballer last year.
“We have a couple of lads that can rattle a few.
“We had a certain type of player that wanted to get their foot on the ball and try to play.
“But you speak to Nicky Deverdics and Carl Magnay who have played in this league before, especially the winter months when You go away you might have to mix it.
“You look at the squad now and it’s better equipped than it was last year and that’s massively important.”