COLIN Cooper insists Hartlepool United’s week-long stay in Spain will be no “holiday camp” for his players.
This morning the Pools squad jetted off to the state-of-the-art La Cala Resort, in southern Spain, for an intense training camp.
Cooper’s men won’t be playing any pre-season matches during their stay, instead the coaching staff – bolstered by Friday’s arrival of new assistant manager Stephen Pears – will be testing the squad to their physical limits on the training pitches.
Cooper is keen to raise standards at the club and the Pools players will have no excuses as the facilities at their Spanish base are top drawer.
It is all aimed at making sure Hartlepool United are firing on all cylinders for the Sky Bet League Two curtain raiser away to Stevenage on Saturday, August 9.
Pools usually spend part of the summer training and playing matches in Holland but Cooper wanted to do things a little differently this year.
Cooper told SportMail: “I know the facility in Spain and it is first class.
“I said from day one that the facilities in Holland were excellent but I just thought it was a good thing for us to change and the chairman has been very supportive.
“The club has been to Holland for the past seven years and for me it was a case of let’s do something a little bit different.
“It is not for want of anything other than changing things up a wee bit.
“I know La Cala, I go to Spain a lot, and was lucky enough to go there recently just to re-acquaint myself and I was delighted with what I saw.
“The facilities are going to be top class and as long as everybody realises – that even though we don’t have any competitive games – it is a working trip.
“Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to be able to work in nice weather, but we have a lot of things to cover in six days.
“As long as we get our heads down and we crack on, then I will be happy.”
The squad jetted out this morning to Malaga Airport before making their way to La Cala Resort, which is around 40 minutes away, close to a place called Mijas.
The players – who will have the football site to themselves – will be using the same state-of-the-art facilities used in the past by the likes of England Under-21s, FC Porto, Anderlecht, Dynamo Moscow and English sides Peterborough United and Leeds United.
As well as three 18-hole championship golf courses, and a full-size FIFA approved football pitch, there are also floodlit hard tennis courts, squash courts, a fitness centre, running circuit and spa to help keep the Pools cahmp in top condition.
It also offers dressing rooms and massage rooms plus conference room facilities.
The week-long trip also gives an opportunity for team bonding and a chance for new signings Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby to further get to know their new team mates.
It will also allow Pears, the club’s new assistant manager and goalkeeping coach, the chance to assess the players ahead of the gruelling League Two campaign.
Pears – a former stopper for Pools and Boro – replaces Craig Hignett who left to join Aitor Karanka’s Boro coaching set-up back in March.
l SportMail’s Richard Mennear will be joining the Hartlepool United squad in Spain this week.
Make sure you buy the Hartlepool Mail and visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk for regular Pools updates from La Cala Resort throughout the week.
Follow @HPoolMail and @RMennearHMail for all the latest Pools news.
JORDAN Deacey, who spent the second half of last season training with Hartlepool United, has signed for Conference Premier side AFC Telford United.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has moved from Conference North side Bradford Park Avenue.
Pools manager Colin Cooper invited Deacey to train with the club during the second half of last season, while he also caught the attention of Scunthorpe United.
But he has signed a one-year deal to join AFC Telford, who were promoted from Conference North last season.
Manager Liam Watson said “Jordan is young and hungry and can certainly have a big future here.”