NIALLE Rodney says Hartlepool United will benefit from his season in the football wilderness.
The 22-year-old spent the bulk of last year without a club before signing for non-league Telford United in February.
But Rodney insists it was a hungrier and more determined version of himself which returned - and says that desire has only been amplified following his move to Victoria Park.
“Last season was great for me and having some time off was perfect really,” the striker told SportMail.
“It gave me that hunger to get back in and succeed.
“I want to grab this chance with both hands now and make the most of it.
“I never doubted myself and my own ability but I perhaps feared I would not get that chance.
“Now I have I’m not going to let it pass.”
It was Rodney’s spell at Bradford City which persuaded former Bantams caretaker boss Colin Cooper to offer the frontman a summer trial.
Having impressed during that period he was duly handed a one-year deal at the Vic, and the player believes Cooper’s faith will be key to his development.
“I could not work with anyone better than Colin,” he said.
“He’s shown faith in me and believes in me, as a player that is huge.
“I’ve seen the nice things he’s said about me and I want to repay him and the club.
“But I’ve also got to do it for myself and prove to everyone that I am good enough to make it at this level.”
Rodney is yet to enjoy his first start for Pools but has come from the bench in the last three matches.
And he concedes he may have to demonstrate a degree of patience when it comes to proving his worth.
“I felt that I had worked hard throughout my trial and really gave it my best shot, so I was delighted to get the offer of a deal,” he said.
“I know I’m not going to walk straight into the team but that’s a challenge for me.
“I will continue to get my head down and give it everything and wait for my chance to come.”