Rhys Oates on unfinished business and the incredible team spirit at Hartlepool United
Rhys Oates’ second spell at Hartlepool United has seen the forward produce some of the best football of his career.
Pools’ top scorer swept the player of the season awards following Saturday’s 4-0 win over Weymouth at Victoria Park.
Oates rejoined Pools following a difficult final season with Morecambe as he was restricted to just five League Two appearances due to injury.
His first spell at The Vic – between 2015 and 2018 – certainly didn’t produce the same level of consistency or quality as he has managed second time round.
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For Oates, he was just thankful to have been given another chance to prove his worth by Pools boss Dave Challinor.
So, did 26-year-old Oates – who has 14 goals to his name – felt like he had unfinished business at Pools?
“Maybe a little bit of unfinished business but the gaffer gave me an opportunity when I’ve been without a club in the summer.
“He’s seen me play in the past and believed in me so it was more proving to myself that I’m still capable of doing it because I didn’t really play much last season, only around eight games.
"I had to get myself as fit as possible and prove to myself that I could still do it.
“I think physically after my injury, I was getting fitter day by day but maybe mentally you need to be confident.
"It was a knee injury so you have to be confident going into tackles and making runs and just being confident that your body is going to hold up and it has.
"Once you get one or two games out the way you know you’re going to be okay.”
Team spirit is high at Pools under Challinor and Oates & Co are hoping to end the season on a major high - with promotion back to the Football League.
Oates added: “It’s been amazing, everyone gets on with each other, there are no bad eggs and you could go out with any one of them and have a conversation because everyone just gets along and it’s a really good squad to be part of.”