'That injury is behind me' - Michael Raynes discusses his Achilles issue, Hartlepool United feeling like 'home' and unfinished business at Pools
Michael Raynes has vowed his injury woes are behind him after putting pen to paper on a permanent Hartlepool United deal.
Raynes' loan switch from Crewe Alexandra was cut short last season as a season-ending Achilles problem flared up.
But, after a miraculous recovery, the 31-year-old ex-Carlisle United man says he's fit and raring to go at the Super 6 Stadium - and he's got unfinished business.
"I feel like I have unfinished business with Hartlepool, considering how it ended so abruptly last season," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back there.
"Last year was a horrendous one for me, football-wise, and at times I felt like I was banging my head against a wall but, when I got the opportunity to go on loan to Pools, I really enjoyed it.
"I don’t know what it is, sometimes when you go to a club you just feel at home straight away and that’s what it was like at Pools, a bit like when I was at Carlisle.
"People welcomed me in immediately, it was a good football environment and maybe it’s a northern thing because fans here appreciate people like me who perhaps aren’t the prettiest but will do anything to win a game.
"I’m back fit again now, that injury is all behind me and I have worked hard to get back in to the right condition."
Released by Crewe this summer, Raynes played three games for Pools on loan last campaign.
And it was a football club that made a big impression on him.
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"I chatted things over with the missus and we talked about how we want to make these next few years of my career as happy as they can be," said Raynes to the club website.
"Once I met the gaffer and Mark (Maguire) they really sold the vision to me.
“This is a massive club and, in my opinion, shouldn’t be in this division so I see no reason why we can’t go and have a really good go at it next season."
Raynes admits he's no spring chicken and in the autumn of his career, he's hopeful he can win a medal or two before he hangs up the boots - starting with the National League title.
“I am running out of years to get some more medals so that’s the goal now," he said.
"I think every player and every club up and down the country will have that target at the start of the season but the way the club is gearing up is really exciting."
Raynes added: "I don’t think the football Gods were looking after me last season but now I am just totally focused on getting back playing, as I am getting to the later years of my career.
“I could probably have come back up to Pools for the last couple of games last season but we agreed that it wasn’t worth the risk of rushing back when there was nothing too much to play for.
“But I am fit now, I am raring to go and I can’t wait to get started.”