Billy Paynter may be the oldest player in the Hartlepool United squad – but he has been the leading light in pre-season.
And the 30-year-old striker says he is looking to keep the younger players on their toes.
Assistant manager Sam Collins is still registered as a player but the 38-year-old hasn’t played since taking up the No 2 role under Ronnie Moore.
So that leaves the former Swindon Town, Leeds United and Carlisle United frontman as the oldest player at Pools – a new experience for the Scouser.
Paynter told SportMail: “I was looking around the dressing room and there were a lot of young faces.
“Batesy (Matthew Bates) had a joke that I was the oldest player.
I will try and keep up with them in pre-season and try and show them up.Billy Paynter
“I have never experienced that before – being 30 and the oldest!
“I will try and keep up with them in pre-season and try and show them up.
“I’m quite bubbly in the dressing room, I like a laugh and a joke but when it comes down to the season, it will be serious business time.
“I can only pass on what I have learned to other players. If they want to listen, it is up to them.”
Moore’s summer priority was to redress the balance in the Pools camp, with last year’s squad made up of players at both ends of the age spectrum and not much in between.
With Marlon Harewood, Stuart Parnaby, Tommy Miller and Neil Austin among those shown the exit door and seven new players signed, Moore now has a much more balanced group for the League Two campaign.
The new faces range in age from 20-year-old Rhys Oates to 30-year-old Paynter, with Harry Worley (26), Jake Carroll (23), Carl Magnay (26), Trevor Carson (27) and Rakish Bingham (21) in between.
Paynter was among the players being put through their paces at Catterick Garrison today – the first of a four-day Army boot camp in North Yorkshire.
He added: “Pre-season has been hard work but that is what it is all about.
“With the gaffer being old school he will like to put us through our paces.
“This time of year is just to get you to a level to make sure you are right for the first game.”
And his manager has been impressed with Paynter’s efforts so far.
Moore said: “When players come in for pre-season I think you make your own conclusions about who is likely to perform the best but then there is always a surprise in there.
“I mean, when we signed Billy Paynter there were a few comments made about whether he would be fit enough but he’s come back in unbelievable shape and his performance has been exceptional.
“He’s won his races, he’s got involved with the lads, he’s encouraged everyone around him – he’s been top drawer.
“I know it didn’t work out for him at Carlisle but since he’s been here I have been encouraged by what I’ve seen.
“He’s been brilliant in his professionalism – he knows the game inside out and his running tests have been unbelievable.”