Higgy’s Summer Blog: Friday 5th July

Craig Hignett, Hartlepool United Manager

Pools boss Craig Hignett is back to give another update to supporters regarding training, friendlies and how his squad have been educated on the new rules.

Hello everyone and welcome to my Friday Blog here on the Official Website.

We’ve had another really positive week at the Club and on the training ground and we’re now all looking forward to Saturday’s pre-season friendly at Shildon.

Training has been great this week, everything has gone to plan and we got some minutes in to the majority of the players at Billingham Town on Tuesday night and did not pick up any injuries from that.

Unfortunately, Fraser Kerr turned an ankle on Wednesday so he probably won’t be available for the Shildon friendly but apart from that we’ve got everything we wanted from the past seven days in terms of that first game and the training schedule.

The National League fixtures coming out on Wednesday was another summer milestone ticked off and I think the fact we’re back playing games already this pre-season is something the players are all pleased with.

I’ve chatted to a few of the lads who have told me that in the past they’ve been at clubs where they’ve trained for two weeks or more before they got to play in a game – I think we were back in seven days before we were in action in that Billingham friendly!

The lads like the fact we’re playing games because it helps to break up the training, which has been very tough – of that there is no question. I would say it’s been as hard work as any pre-season I’ve been involved with so we’re pleased with the way the lads are coming through it so far.

We’ve got another week or so left of the really hard and long stuff and then it will start to taper down as the games keep coming. It will then be a bit shorter and sharper, with the emphasis shifting to that sharpness rather than the stamina we’ve worked on so far.

As I said, Fraser is a doubt for Saturday and Ryan Donaldson needs some more training in to him before he’ll be ready to play after missing a little with a tight calf. Luke Williams is still being monitored but we want to try and get him through pre-season strongly and introduce him in the games gradually. He’s not far away and I know for a fact he’s champing at the bit now.

Away from the training pitch, it’s essential that we all understand the amendments to the Laws of the Game that have come in this summer. We need to be able to use the rules to our advantage as much as possible and certainly if we can have more knowledge about the new rules than anyone else then it can only be beneficial.

With that in mind, I would like to thank Hartlepool referee Tony Harrington for coming in to deliver a presentation about those amendments to the rules on Friday morning. He ran us through everything and answered all of our questions too. There are certainly some interesting changes which I am sure we will be touching on when the season gets underway but it’s important we know exactly what we’re doing so nobody gets caught out by anything.

I know there is a new rule this season that if someone on the bench misbehaves and the officials can’t identify who it is then the punishment goes to the Manager, whether that’s a yellow or a red card! I can see me just turning in to a grass on the bench now – and when it’s me who is guilty I will be saying it’s someone else!

One scenario that does worry me is, for example, in the sort of situation when we came from 2-0 down to be drawing 2-2 at Sutton last season. Ged McNamee was saying we needed to just keep it solid after that and take what we had but my instinct is always to go all-out for the win. I can see Ged doing something to deliberately get me sent to the stands so that he can bring on six defenders! Only kidding, Ged!

I have to say, the Season Ticket sales this summer have been absolutely superb once again. It’s been an amazing response. I am really pleased about it because the Chairman has really backed me this summer so it’s great to see the fans coming out and backing him.

I said it at the start of the summer but the one message I will say is that we have to all be totally together now. As players, staff, fans, the Club as a whole – we all want the same thing and I definitely think we’re slowly getting there.

The Club has made massive strides behind the scenes over the summer and I think everyone can see that we have a much stronger squad than it was at the end of last season. Financially, the Club is much more robust now so let’s stick together and drive things forward as one.

That’s all for now – see you at Shildon!

Craig.