Season starts here

HARTLEPOOL United new boy Lee Bullock met his team-mates for the first time today at Durham's Maiden Castle as the squad got together for day one of pre-season training.

The 24-year-old midfielder was also joined by Irish international winger Thomas Butler who put pen to paper on a one year deal at the Vic after impressing last season.

However, first team stars Ritchie Humphreys, Adam Boyd, Gavin Strachan, Tony Sweeney, Michael Nelson, Joel Porter and Eifion Williams will be missing after being handed an extra week off by Martin Scott following their super human efforts last season.

Former Sunderland young gun Butler becomes the latest player to sign a new deal in a busy week at the Vic.

Before the arrival of Bullock on a Bosman transfer from Championship outfit Cardiff City Scott had secured young keeper James Winter on a one year professional contract and striker Andrew Appleby.

And now ex-Middlesbrough defender Jason Gavin

has emerged as the favourite to be Scott's next signing – according to his manager Roddy Collins.

The former Carlisle United boss Collins is currently in charge at Shamrock Rovers where Gavin joined from Bradford City in March.

The club is currently experiencing financial difficulties and Collins said: "Several players are leaving when the British clubs' transfer window opens.

"Jason Gavin is on his way to Hartlepool and Paddy McCourt will probably join Motherwell."

Gavin, 25, spent a short loan spell at Pools back in 1997 when Mick Tait brought him to the club. He made just two substitute appearances.

Pools have announced several changes to their fixture list.

The home game with Yeovil Town in League One has been brought forward to 12pm due to England's World Cup qualifier with Wales on September 3.

And Neale Cooper's return to the Vic with Gillingham will also kick-off at 12pm due to England's home clash with Austria on the same day.

Three fixtures have also been switched to a Friday night from the traditional 3pm kick-off on a Saturday.

Pools home clash with Chesterfield on February 10, the Huddersfield game on March 10 and the Oldham game on March 31 all take place on a Friday night at 7.45pm next year.