Skipper Sweeney to lead Hartlepool Utd out against Preston North End

Antony Sweeney in action against Middlesborough FC.
Antony Sweeney in action against Middlesborough FC.

ANTONY Sweeney will tonight lead Hartlepool United out at Victoria Park for the first time since being confirmed as skipper – but he admits he nearly blew his chance at the armband.

It was during this month’s tour of Holland that the 29-year-old was approached by new boss Colin Cooper and the role was discussed.

But Sweeney has revealed that his initial reaction was perhaps a little too honest.

“The gaffer had a conversation with me in Holland and asked my thoughts about it,” he reflected.

“It came out of the blue really.

“I told him my thoughts on it and I said that I’m not really a shouter and a screamer.

“For him to ask me I was a little bit taken aback, and perhaps I should have just snapped his hand off straight away looking back!”

Sweeney went on: “But I don’t think he wants his skipper to shout and bawl.

“He wants people to lead by example and help people through.

“Hopefully I can do that.

“It’s an honour, there are a lot of experienced players here who could be captain.

“So for the gaffer to approach me is fantastic, it’s a proud moment.”

Sweeney now looks set to be the player around which Cooper moulds his new-look Pools side.

Afforded a more advanced, midfield role, the Stockton-born star is hoping to improve on not just his goals tally but also his appearance return.

Sweeney missed small periods of last season through injury and admitted at the end of the campaign that a heavy summer schedule had not helped.

He had promised to lighten his load this time around, although that did not go according to plan.

“I probably did even more than I did last year,” said Sweeney.

“But I did mix it up.

“I went boxing quite a bit and I tried to stay away from the training ground so that when you do come back it’s not monotonous.

“So what I had planned went out of the window really.

“But hopefully I can stay away from the injuries and a lot of the stuff the gaffer has brought in will help with that.

“If I play more games and get a run then I’m sure the goals will come with that, that’s my aim this season.”