Craig Hignett has admitted that his appetite for the new campaign has been whetted even further now that the fixtures for 2016/17 have been released.
Pools have been handed a home date with Colchester United to kick-off the new season, while Hignett’s men will also be on home soil on Boxing Day and on the final day – the first time that has happened since 2006/07.
Relegated Colchester will bring a big test for Pools but Hignett says he just can’t wait to get the players working towards the game and see where the new season can take the Club.
“It’s real now, isn’t it? You can start putting in the fixtures and planning where you’re going to be,” Hignett told us.
“I’m really looking forward to the players coming back in to training because I am ready to start work again now – it feels like we have been off for ages even though it hasn’t actually been that long!
“I really can’t wait and I know the fans and the players feel the same so hopefully we can have a really enjoyable season.
“It’s nice to start at home and it will be a big game. Colchester will be wanting to start well after coming down so that will be a tough one for us – but they can all be tough if you aren’t prepared or you don’t approach things in the right way.
“It’s great for the fans that we are starting at The Vic, that’s the first thing you look at – and to be at home over Christmas and on the last day too, I don’t think we can complain about the fixtures!
“We know we have to play everyone at some stage, we know we have some rascal trips along the way but, as far as fixtures go, I think they have been kind to us this season.”
Pools will make one of their longest trips of the season when they tackle Exeter City on the second weekend of the season and that’s followed by the journey to Crewe Alexandra, where Hignett began his footballing career.
“We have got Exeter away very early to chalk some of the big miles off – it’s good to get that then because the lads will be fresh and we can make that trip looking for a positive result.
“The away game I was always looking for was Crewe Alexandra and I’m delighted to get that one in really early.
“I haven’t been back there in a while so I am really excited by that one because I know I will still see quite a few familiar faces at a club which is still very special to me.”
Christmas will see Pools pitted against a Lancashire trio, as Blackpool visit The Vic on Boxing Day, Morecambe journey to the North East on New Year’s Eve before Hignett’s men travel to Accrington Stanley on Monday 2nd January 2017.
And the Pools boss is content with the way the fixtures have landed over the festive period and he hopes that will allow his side to pick up some useful results at a key time in the campaign.
“The games always come thick and fast over Christmas and you really want to hit some form over that period because it can set you up for the New Year and the run-in really.
“Again, I think the fixtures have been quite kind to us in terms of the travelling we’ll be doing and it’s always a good atmosphere when you play at home on Boxing Day.
“Going to Accrington first up in 2017 will be a test because they did so well last season and I’m pretty sure John Coleman will have them up there battling again.
“The schedule over Christmas is good though so that just means it will be down to how we approach the fixtures and hopefully we can make it a key period for us.”
Pools will round-off their campaign at home to Doncaster Rovers, a club who have significantly strengthened since relegation from League One and will fancy their chances of promotion.
However, Hignett is quietly confident that his side can have a say in things when Rovers visit the North East in May but understands there is plenty of water to go under the bridge before then.
“There is a lot of football and a lot of games to be played before then but it would be nice to think that there was something riding on that game.
“The first priority for us is to start the season well and not get carried away; we have some hard work ahead and we’ll see where we are when that fixture comes along but it’s looks a tasty one.”
Click here now to see the full fixture list for 2016/17.