SAM Collins believes Hartlepool United are reaping the reward of keeping Peter Hartley at Victoria Park.
Pools head into this weekend’s League One showdown with Sheffield Wednesday having not conceded on home soil in six hours of football.
Hartley has been at the centre of the defence for the entirety of that stingy stretch.
And skipper Collins has applauded the club’s hierarchy and manager Mick Wadsworth for securing the future of the former Sunderland trainee back in May.
He told SportMail: “One of the best things the club did at the end of last season was getting Peter to sign a new deal.
“His improvement over the past two seasons has been incredible really, and he can still get better.
“The fact he listens and is so keen to improve is so important.
“Keeping him here was key for us.”
The Collins-Hartley axis was restored at half-time during the away clash at Carlisle United after the captain had missed three matches because of injury.
They helped see out a gritty victory at Brunton Park and have again been at the heart of the rearguard for the subsequent wins over Bury and Bournemouth.
And Collins believes their partnership can go from strength this season over the coming months.
“Myself and Peter have had a chat and want to push on as a pair,” said the 34-year-old.
“We’ve got younger lads as cover and Paul Johnson came in for one game last season and did well.
“But we want to stick together and try to build on the partnership.
“We want to get better as a pair and I think we can do that.
“Peter’s getting older and that little bit more experienced at this level and I’m still feeling very good so this is a big season for us.”
FULL story in Thursday’s Mail ...