Hartlepool United's Ryan Donaldson gearing up for pre-season ahead of 'relentless' National League schedule
Ryan Donaldson believes Hartlepool United’s pre-season schedule will stand them in good stead ahead of the upcoming National League season.
The 28-year-old will return to training with the rest of his Pools teammates this Thursday.
And the winger feels the team’s approach to pre-season will be crucial in managing the ‘relentless’ start to the 2019/20 season.
Teams will play up to nine matches within a month of the season kicking off on August 3. By the first week in September, one fifth of the season is already over.
Out of the sides in the play-off places after nine matches in 2018/19, only Pools and Sutton United didn’t end the campaign in the top seven.
It’s something Donaldson will be looking to change this time out.
“The first two months are absolutely relentless and we have to be ready for that,” said Donaldson.
“It’s about getting in to a position in the league table and staying there – we got to it last year but couldn’t keep it up and we were always fighting to try and get back and stay in touch.”
Donaldson agreed new deal last month and has been gearing himself up for the return to training.
Sessions have been taking place at East Durham College sporadically over the summer to allow players to work on their fitness ahead of a frantic schedule.
“Pre-season will be hard, we know that, but it has to be because we play 13 or 14 games in those first two months so we need to hit the ground running,” he added.
“It’s down to us to be in shape and be ready for that opening period of the season and make sure we come out of it inside the top seven – then we can go from there,” he told the club website.
Pools’ first friendly takes place in two weeks time as they visit local side Billingham Town on Tuesday, July 2 (7pm kick-off).
Hignett’s men will also travel to Shildon (July 6, 3pm), Newton Aycliffe (July 9, 7:30pm) and York City (July 17, 7pm) with their two home friendlies against Middlesbrough (July 14, 1pm) and Sheffield United under-23s (July 20, 3pm).