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Paddy McLaughlin is hoping for a ‘tough’ pre-season with Hartlepool United ahead of the new campaign

Paddy McLaughlin, left, in action for Gateshead last season against Hartlepool United's Jonathan Franks.
Paddy McLaughlin, left, in action for Gateshead last season against Hartlepool United's Jonathan Franks.

Paddy McLaughlin is hoping for a ‘tough’ pre-season under Matthew Bates as he looks to power his way through to the start of the new campaign.

The former Gateshead midfielder joined Pools last week after leaving their struggling National League rivals.

Bates is hoping McLaughlin will provide energy and drive to his midfield, along with his excellent passing ability, as Hartlepool look to make more of an impact on the National League this season.

McLaughlin was an ever-present for Steve Watson’s Gateshead outfit last campaign and he’s hoping for more of the same this time.

With that in mind, McLaughlin is determined to get the maximum out of pre-season under Bates after admitting he has come to understand its importance.

“The type of player that I am, I like to be out playing every week,” he said.

“Hopefully, it will be more of the same this season and we will have some success.

“You only realise [the importance of pre-season] the older you get.

“When you are younger you think an easy pre-season is good for you and try to do as little as possible. It’s not.

“The tougher it is stands you in good stead for the first game. There is nothing better than feeling fit and strong when you are going out to play football.”

Pools begin their pre-season campaign on Saturday when they take on Northern League side Billingham Town.

It will be the first run-out for the players since the end of last season and will help the build up to the opening league game in four weeks’ time.

“The first game will be around soon – we are just over a month away now,” said McLaughlin. “It won’t take long.

“Pre-season is always a funny time. Normally somewhere in the middle you find yourself asking ‘what am I doing here?’ And you’re desperate for that first game to come around.

“The excitement will build when the fixtures come out.”

The 2018/19 fixtures are released today and McLaughlin admits he can’t wait to sample the Victoria Park atmosphere as a Hartlepool United player.

The Northern Ireland Under-21 international was blown away by the 2,000 travelling Poolies on Boxing Day at the International Stadium last season.

But nothing bettered the mood at the Vic on New Year’s Day as the two sides fought out a 2-2 draw in front of a 3,241-strong crowd.

And McLaughlin admits he was hoping for a National League home clash on the August 4 opening day.

“I am sure it will be a different experience (playing at the Vic),” said the Northern Irishman, signed on a free transfer last week.

“It will be good to have that crowd behind you rather than wanting you to lose.

“A home game first would be ideal to get straight into the thick of it.”