Paul Hartley focused on Walsall challenge as Hartlepool United prepare for season opener

Paul Hartley is yet to decide on what his strongest Hartlepool United line-up is as he admits he is still to complete his transfer business this summer.

Pools have already had a big summer rebuild with over 10 new arrivals at the Suit Direct Stadium as we head towards the opening weekend of the new League Two season.

Pools kick off the new campaign at Walsall with Hartley set for his first game as a manager in the Football League after a successful decade in Scotland.

But despite acknowledging his need to continue the summer recruitment, Hartley has been encouraged so far.

Paul Hartley is focused on Hartlepool United's trip to Walsall. Picture by FRANK REID.

“I don’t know [my team selection] because we’ve still got to strengthen and we still want to bring players in,” Hartley told The Mail.

“If we can get one or two in the building for us then I’ve got to pick the right team that I think can win the game on Saturday.

“They’ve all done well,” Hartley added of his new squad.

“They’ve worked really hard. It’s never easy to gel 12 new signings together, and possibly more, and integrate with the other lads who’ve already been here.

Marcus Carver could miss the trip to Walsall with a thigh injury. Picture by FRANK REID

“But I think we’ve shown glimpses in games that we’re OK.

“You always want to come through [pre-season] injury free and be able to work on your style. We’ve been fairly pleased with that.

“But that won’t matter. It’s all about Saturday. Results, I don’t really bother about with pre-season. It’s more about performances and your discipline. Now it really starts to build up.

“I do feel we’ve changed a lot of things in a short space of time. We can still get better and still improve, but I’m looking forward to it.

“We’ll really go at it Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with how we want to play.

“We’ve seen a lot of Walsall, we want to try and look at their style. We’ll go over a lot of video footage with the players over the coming days.”

Hartley is hopeful of having almost a full squad available to him for the trip to the Midlands with Reagan Ogle and Jamie Sterry back in training.

Marcus Carver may be the one player to miss out with his return from a thigh injury not expected until next week.